Six biggest X-Factors for the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays
By Nick Prasad
Right-hander Alek Manoah will swim in the same pool. The number one starter in the rotation will have to eat his share of innings and be effective in big games. Manoah brings energy and demeanor through his repertoire and arsenal.
The key for him is consistency; consistency in served innings, fundamentals, mechanics, and game plan. In 2022, he tossed 196.2 innings with a 2.24 ERA and 180 strikeouts. As long Manoah keeps the confidence in his pitch options he will go deep into games, controlling the lower half of lineups, and working big counts.
So far in 2023 we’ve seen a slight decrease in fastball velocity and this is a clear reflection of mechanics and hip usage. Staying consistent will be key for his success in every sense; a consistent Manoah will result in a minimum of 16-18 wins which could be the difference between a Wild Card run and a division title. Manoah is heavily relied on this season and the team depends on his depth and effectiveness on the mound.
The new and improved outfield for the Blue Jays also brought evident athletic ability, the ability to reach base, and the ability to spark the running game. Daulton Varsho can stick his feet in all three of those needs for the team. He may be viewed as a utility outfielder; however, Varsho’s athletic presence serves all in-game scenarios to win.
He hit 27 bombs in 2022 along with 74 RBIs on 125 hits. His bat is huge in an already muscular Toronto lineup and his quick twitch muscles can ensure more runners in scoring position. Varsho’s ability to play small ball and cause base-pad havoc will come in handy all year long throughout the season and into the playoffs for the Jays. This is an impactful x-factor in various game scenarios to come.