"Nastiest pitch on the Blue Jays", per MLB, unsurprisingly belongs to the staff ace

MLB.com has identified the nastiest pitch on each team, with Kevin Gausman offering yet another example of why he's the Blue Jays' most reliable arm.

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One
Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

After just two seasons in Toronto, Kevin Gausman has already lived up to the five-year, $110M deal he signed with the Blue Jays. In fact, you can even make a case for him being even better than what was initially anticipated.

Gausman firmly established himself in the Blue Jays' rotation during 2022, highlighted by leading the AL with a career-low 2.38 FIP and finishing ninth in Cy Young voting. However, it's what he achieved during last season, which showed what he was capable of as a leader.

As Alek Manoah faltered, the 33-year-old Gausman stepped up to the challenge, becoming the staff ace and finishing third in AL Cy Young voting. As per FanGraphs, he had 5.3 fWAR which tied for third-best among all Major League pitchers, and led the AL with a career-best 237 strikeouts.

First among Blue Jays pitchers yet again

With all this in mind, it should come as no surprise that Gausman was identified by MLB.com, as having the nastiest pitch among all Blue Jays pitchers. More specifically, David Adler selected the right-hander's splitter.

Adler states that the two-time All-Star's splitter was so effective and dangerous that it produced 127 strikeouts, which were the second-most of any individual pitch type in the league during this past season. The splitter also generated 261 swings and misses last year, which were the fifth-most of any individual pitch.

As per Brooks Baseball, Gausman's splitter averaged 86 mph during last season. They go on to understandably compare it favourably to other pitchers' splitters, noting its natural sink and being slightly firmer than usual.

When it was all said and done last season, the Blue Jays were one of the very best rotations in the Majors, ranking third with a team 3.85 ERA and second with 922 strikeouts. Even allowing for the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Manoah they are expected to again be one of the top rotations in 2024, with Gausman set to continue leading the way.

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Aside from Gausman, Adler also gave an honourable mention to Trevor Richards and his changeup, which averaged 83 mph last season. As per Brooks Baseball, it generates an extremely high number of swings and misses compared to other pitchers' changeups, with him relying on it more than ever during 2023.

Despite the success of his changeup however, Richards still has plenty to do overall, to prove himself as a more reliable member of the Blue Jays bullpen. The signs are there, as evidenced by being on course for a career-low ERA of 2.96 on July 29 last year; unfortunately for him though, by season's end it had ballooned to 4.95.

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