What is the best starting rotation for the Blue Jays in the Wild Card Series?

How should the Blue Jays set up their starting rotation against the Twins?

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays
Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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With the Toronto Blue Jays loss to the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, the Blue Jays are now locked into a Wild Card series showdown against the AL Central divisional winner Minnesota Twins. All of the Jays’ games will be played on the road at Target Field in Minneapolis. With that in mind, how should the Jays handle their starting rotation situation for the AL Wild Card series?

The Analysis

To determine that, let’s take a closer look at some of the statistics behind the Jays’ top five starters.

2023 Road Record 

Career vs. the Twins

Kevin Gausman

15 GP, 7-5, 3.27 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 85.1 IP, 23 BB, 106 K, 9 HR

11 GP, 1-4, 6.35 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 56.2 IP, 18 BB, 65 K, 8 HR

Chris Bassitt

16 GP, 8-4, 4.50 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 90 IP, 26 BB, 81 K, 19 HR

7 GP, 1-1, 5.26 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 25.2 IP, 13 BB, 23 K, 5 HR

José Berríos

17 GP, 5-6, 3.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 99.2 IP, 29 BB, 91 K, 13 HR

5 GP, 3-1, 4.03 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 29 IP, 12 BB, 35 K, 5 HR

Yusei Kikuchi

17 GP, 5-3, 3.77 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 88.1 IP, 21 BB, 94 K, 13 HR 

5 GP, 1-1, 3.38 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 26.2 IP, 7 BB, 26 K, 6 HR

Hyun Jin Ryu

5 GP, 1-1, 3.47 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 23.1 IP, 8 BB, 19 K, 5 HR 

2 GP, 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 7 IP, 4 BB, 7 K, 2 HR

If looking at just their road performance for the 2023 season, Kevin Gausman is no doubt the number one starter in the rotation with strong numbers across the board. However, Hyun Jin Ryu follows close behind in second, with Yusei Kikuchi and José Berríos performing about the same statistically. Of the five, only Chris Bassitt has been the one that has been hit hard and struggled the most on the road this year, having yielded 19 HR in just 90 innings pitched.

Moreover, if we take a look at their career stats against the Twins, a completely different outcome is present. The top three performers are Kikuchi, Berríos, and Bassitt in that order. Kikuchi had a solid start against the Twins this year, going five innings and giving up just two earned runs with four strikeouts. Berríos also posted a strong win against his former team earlier this season in which he went 5.2 scoreless innings of four-hit ball.

However, Bassitt had a terrible start against the Twins in 2023 in which he gave up seven runs in just four innings pitched. In addition, for whatever reason, Gausman has struggled mightily against the Twins in his career, including this current season in which he has given up 11 hits, seven earned runs, nine walks and 12 strikeouts in just 10 innings pitched. In the case for Ryu, his sample size is small, but he hasn’t fared well either against the Twins in his career.