Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Season Preview: RHP José Berríos

Michael Fisher
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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The second starting pitcher in our 2023 season preview series is right-hander José Berríos.

Previously:

Addison Barger (story link)

Anthony Bass (story link)

Chris Bassitt (story link)

Before we get going, here's a refresher on what projection systems we're going to be taking a look at.

STEAMER

ZiPS

Berríos, 28, will enter his second full season with the Blue Jays and the second year of the seven-year, $131M extension he signed after coming over to the club via trade during the 2021 season.

STEAMER: 31 GS, 11-10 record, 4.14 ERA, 159 SO and 47 BB in 176 innings

ZiPS: 29 GS, 9-9 record, 4.38 ERA, 152 SO and 41 BB in 166.1 innings

2022 stats: 32 GS, 12-7 record, 5.23 ERA, 149 SO and 45 BB in 172 innings

The two projection systems are predicting similar 2023 seasons for Berríos. ZiPS thinks he'll have fewer starts, which makes sense since he's been dropped down the pecking order since the beginning of the 2022 season when he was named the Opening Day starter.

The 2022 season was a rollercoaster of inconsistency for Berríos, which was concerning for someone whose calling card had been his start-to-start reliability up to that point. He pitched a handful of abbreviated starts, like the Opening Day fiasco where he couldn't get out of the first inning, along with a mix of outings that ranged from mediocre to quality starts. He also sprinkled in a couple of gems along the way. In the end, it definitely wasn't the season Jays fans were expecting or hoping for from the new acquisition.

Both projections see Berríos lowering last season's 5.23 ERA closer to his career average of 4.24, which would signal a more consistent 2023 campaign and make him a solid third or fourth starter.

His 7.80 K/9 rate was the lowest of his career (not including his debut season). Steamer and ZiPS see Berríos upping that to 8.14 and 8.20, respectively. While this would be a welcome improvement, it doesn't equal his career K/9 rate of 8.84 or the solid 9.98 mark he posted in 2021 after moving over from the Twins.

For Berríos to perform at a more Berríos-like level in 2023 and match the projections, he'll have to figure out how to limit damage on his fourseam fastball.

In 2022, he had a team-worst Run Value of 17 on the fourseamer (compare that to Alek Manoah's team-leading -19 Run Value). Batters teed off on his fastball, hitting .349 and slugging .618, putting him near the bottom of the league for fourseam fastball effectiveness. If he wants to increase his strikeout totals and lower his ERA, he'll have to improve on the career-low marks he set of 18.9 Whiff% and 17.5 K% on the fastball.

Overall, the projections for Berríos seem fair based on his recent performance. Now that the pressure of being the staff ace is off his shoulders (through the arrival of Gausman and the emergence of Manoah), fans will be happy to see him return to being a more consistent starter in the back half of a strong 2023 rotation.

Next. Blue Jays Mailbag: Answer reader-submitted questions. dark

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