Underrated Blue Jays: One pitcher and one hitter who have quietly been solid in 2023
By Edward Eng
Much news has been made for the current Toronto Blue Jays’ players that were off to hot or terrible starts for the 2023 season. Lost in the mix are two players that have been quietly providing decent, solid production to the team without many realizing. Here, we take a look at the two underrated Jays that have been getting the job done without much fanfare.
An underrated pitcher and hitter on the 2023 Blue Jays.
Whit Merrifield was acquired by the Jays at the 2022 trade deadline from the Royals in exchange for prospects Max Castillo and Samad Taylor. He was immersed in a down year with the Royals at the time, but turned it around after the trade and provided solid production down the stretch for the Jays, hitting .281 with five home runs and 16 RBI, scoring 19 runs in 44 games. For 2023, it was expected that Merrifield would be a super utilityman who spent the majority of his playing time at second base and in the outfield.
So far, Merrifield has quietly put together a solid start to the season. He hasn’t been smashing the ball like crazy like Matt Chapman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., or Bo Bichette, but he is currently hitting .287 with a .726 OPS, with 10 runs scored, four stolen bases and 10 RBI. More impressive was he had a 22-game on-base streak since the start of the season that just ended in Boston on Tuesday, and among that streak he also posted a 10-game hitting streak to go along with it.
He may not be the superstar he once was when he played for the Royals, but as a seasoned veteran, he certainly can still provide strong value across the board when given the chance. It is evident that the Jays are starting to realize that as well, as recently he has been move up further in the lineup to take advantage of his consistent production in the past few games.
From seasons in the past, whenever Tim Mayza took the mound, many people would start to panic and were already expecting him to be putting base runners on, and most of the time, wouldn’t escape unscathed. However, this year, other than his first relief appearance of the season in St. Louis in which he gave up one earned run and three hits without getting a batter out, he has performed much more consistently in the 12 appearances that followed. He also remains the only left-hander that the Blue Jays have out of the bullpen, so his usage is all over the map in both high and low-leverage situations.
Collectively for the season, Mayza is 1-0, with a 1.04 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, giving up only one earned run, with eight strikeouts, three holds and one save in 8.2 innings over 13 appearances. People have to admit they are often still nervous when he does end up putting runners on once in a while, with too many flashbacks of previous years, but he’s getting out of it a little better this year. After all, even Jays closer Jordan Romano does it from time to time to drive up the blood pressure before shutting his opponents down. Hopefully, Mayza can continue his success this year and quietly make it a solid career year for him.