Yes, it's still early, but what is going on with Blue Jays starting pitchers?
By Eric Treuden
No matter which way you look at it, the 2023 regular season has not started off on the right foot for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Through the club's first four games, the Jays have a record of 1-3. The lone victory came in a slugfest on Opening Day in St. Louis for the Cardinals. Each of the three games since then have been losses, and tough losses at that.
While the bats have been extremely hot and cold, it's the starting pitching that has been the obvious Achilles heel for the Blue Jays in the early goings of this season. The pitching staff as a whole has a combined ERA of 7.64, which is the second highest in all of baseball next to the Phillies who currently boast a 9.28 staff ERA.
It's still very early in the season, but the Blue Jays starting rotation has looked rough.
Virtually every turn through the starting rotation has ended poorly for the Jays through the first handful of games. As a matter of fact, the four starters to take a turn this year have combined to post an ERA of 10.80. Yes, you read that right.
In the season opener, it was Alek Manoah who failed to make it through four innings after surrendering five earned runs on nine hits while walking two and striking out just three.
Kevin Gausman, the lone starter to look even halfway decent, threw six shutout innings in the second game of the year, striking out seven and walking just one. He did, however, surrender eight hits and wasn't able to have the offense carry him to a victory. That one is not his fault, so he can be exempt.
Chris Bassitt got lit up like a Christmas tree in his Blue Jays debut. He, like Manoah, failed to make it through four, after surrendering nine earned runs on 10 hits with a whopping four home runs allowed. The 34-year-old is known for having a ton of weapons at his disposal, but he failed to strikeout a single batter in this game.
Then there's José Berríos, one of the club's biggest X-factors coming into the season. He had a disastrous season last year and tried hard over the offseason to improve in any way he could for this year. He took the ball Monday night against the Royals and allowed eight earned runs on nine hits while punching out seven.
Yusei Kikuchi is the only Blue Jays pitcher who has yet to take the mound. He will start Tuesday evening against the Royals and will look to continue his dominance from Spring Training. Hopefully his 2023 AL Cy Young campaign starts off on the right foot this evening.
The starting rotation seemed to be a position of strength for the Blue Jays heading into 2023. With Manoah and Gausman, one of the strongest top-two duos in the game, atop the rotation, things seemed to be in good hands. Bassitt was brought aboard to be a reliable No. 3 or 4 starter who will always keep the Jays in the ballgame and is a workhorse on the mound. Berríos was an ace-like pitcher for the Twins who seemed to be one or two tweaks away from re-kindling his success.
Instead, the Jays have come out of the gates looking like a defeated bunch. The offense hasn't been there to backup the pitching but there have been some bright spots. Matt Chapman has been a doubles machine and currently sports a .533 average, while Kevin Kiermaier and Bo Bichette are both hitting above .385. Daulton Varsho and Brandon Belt have both been off to terrible starts at the plate, so they, like the starting pitchers, will need to get their feet under them soon if the club hopes to avoid losing a ton of ground right at the onset of the season.