The Pitching Staff Continues to Produce for the Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays staff has been a key component for the 2023 season, helping keep the squad in the postseason conversation.

Jose Berrios of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 03: Jose Berrios #17 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on October 03, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

The Toronto Blue Jays sit just outside the Wild Card picture with 37 games left on the season, although one cannot fault the pitching staff for what they have accomplished so far this year.

While the rotation does feature prominent names such as Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, and José Berríos, the Blue Jays have seen stellar results from almost every one of their starters. The rotation arms currently own a collective 3.75 ERA, ranking third in the MLB, with every arm owning an ERA below the 4.00 mark except for Alek Manoah.

Leading the charge for the Jays has been Kevin Gausman, who finds himself in the AL Cy Young conversation again this season with his 2.84 FIP and his AL-leading 4.4 fWAR amongst pitchers. Gausman also has 187 strikeouts on the year, currently tied with Twins starter Pablo López for the most among AL arms.

Looking at the Blue Jays rotation

Alongside Gausman are Berríos and southpaw Yusei Kikuchi, who are both coming back from abysmal 2022 campaigns and have become key components of this season’s rotation. Berríos has made 25 appearances to the tune of a 3.39 ERA while allowing three earned runs or fewer in 76% of his starts so far this year, bouncing back nicely after owning an MLB-worst 5.23 ERA last campaign.

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For Kikuchi, the Japanese product has been one of the most dominant pitchers since the All-Star break, holding opponents to a .213 average while allowing just five earned runs through 35 innings of work and boasting a 1.29 ERA through that time.

Since returning from the IL, Hyun Jin Ryu has also fit in nicely amongst the Jays staff, as the 36-year-old owns a 1.89 ERA through four starts with a 2.4 BB/9 and a 1.053 WHIP. Rounding out the group is Bassitt, who has been inconsistent at times but has been dominant when on, throwing the Blue Jays’ first complete game shutout since 2015 against the Atlanta Braves earlier this season.

The Bullpen

Looking at the current bullpen for the Blue Jays, it is safe to say that this is one of the deepest relief corps fans have seen in quite some time. There are numerous arms that can be called upon in high-pressure situations and different pitchers that can be used whether the club needs some firepower or deception.

Erik Swanson has been a welcome addition to the squad this season, boasting a 3.23 ERA through a club-leading 57 appearances, while Trevor Richards has bounced back nicely this year as well, becoming a dependable arm for the club with his 2.96 ERA. Tim Mayza has been one of the most underrated arms in the league this year as well, as the southpaw has dominated through 42 2/3 innings of work, allowing just five runs all season long while amassing a 1.05 ERA with an 8.6 K/9.

Newcomers Génesis Cabrera and Jordan Hicks have also fit in nicely since joining the team at the trade deadline while Jordan Romano is back off the IL and back to closing games. Yimi García owns a team-high 4.03 ERA but has been pitching well as of late after struggling earlier.

Depth-wise, the Jays have Bowden Francis, Jay Jackson, and Nate Pearson waiting in the wings should they be required and veteran Chad Green is close to returning to the big league stage after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, providing more firepower to an already potent relief pitching staff.

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Some struggles for the Jays’ staff

While a majority of the Blue Jays pitching staff has excelled this season, there have been a few pitchers that have struggled to find a rhythm amongst the successes.

Most notable has been starter Alek Manoah, who has struggled mightily with his command this season and has been bumped off of the rotation and finds himself back in Triple-A for the second time this season. The right-hander owns a 5.87 ERA on the season and a 1.740 WHIP through 87 1/3 innings of work, while walking batters at a 6.1 BB/9 clip and holding a 72 ERA+.

After finishing as a Cy Young finalist last year, Manoah is not seeing the same results this season and with Ryu returning, the 6-foot-6 Florida product was sent back down to the Minors.

The bullpen has also had a few arms struggle to keep up with the current group, as Adam Cimber and Mitch White have both fallen down the depth charts, while Cimber currently sits on the 60-day IL and White was DFA’d earlier this year.

Looking ahead for the Blue Jays

Regardless of whether the Blue Jays are able to make the postseason or not, nobody will be able to fault the pitching staff for what they have been able to accomplish this season. Holding runs off the board and boasting one of the deepest rotations and bullpens in the American League, should the club make the playoffs, pitching is one area to not be concerned about if the Jays are looking to make a deep run.