Toronto Blue Jays Odds, Schedule, Stats, Standing MLB 2023 Season
Toronto Blue Jays Last Season Performance
Winning 92 games, finishing second in the American League East, and losing in the Wild Card, fell slightly short of the Toronto Blue Jays’ expectations for 2022. There was so much hype leading up to the season that it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion they would win the division and have a deep postseason run.
Instead, they got off to a slow start, which led to a managerial change from Charlie Montoyo to John Schneider. While roster depth was the biggest problem last season, the minor decrease in the production from All-Star-level bats also had a massive effect.
When Schneider took over, he rejuvenated the team, with the Blue Jays going 46-28 under him. Toronto entered the postseason through the Wild Card but lost to the Seattle Mariners in two games.
This offseason was about adding depth, balance, and defense, glaring issues from Toronto’s 2022 season. They signed starting pitcher Chris Bassitt to a three-year $63 million deal to bolster the rotation. He was solid last season for the New York Mets, with 15 wins in 30 starts and an ERA of 3.42.
The Blue Jays traded for reliever Erik Swanson, who broke out last season for the Mariners with a 1.68 ERA in 57 games. They also added Chad Green to the bullpen, which looks much better.
Outfield/catcher Daulton Varsho was another trade acquisition that the Blue Jays made to add depth to the roster. In addition, Kevin Kiermaier was signed to a one-year deal to fill in the final outfield spot. Finally, ex-San Francisco Giant Brandon Belt, likely to be the designated hitter, joined Toronto.
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The trades for crucial pieces in the 2023 season, Swanson and Varsho, did end up costing Toronto some assets. The biggest being Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Both were a massive part of the Blue Jays lineup, combining for 129 RBIs in 2022.
Starting pitcher Ross Stripling also left in free agency. He was one of the three pitchers who performed well for the Blue Jays’ starting rotation last season.
Manager: John Schneider
Schneider had enough success being the interim manager of the Blue Jays to make the job official. He signed an extension for three more seasons, including a team option in 2026. The turnaround was notable. However, the Blue Jays fried Montoyo with a record of 46-42, showing Toronto does not mind pulling the plug if necessary.
The Blue Jays hired experienced manager Don Mattingly as a bench coach to help Schneider.
Strengths: More Balance
Last season, despite the hype the Blue Jays were getting, their downfall seemed obvious. They had no left-handed batters in their lineup, relied on a few top-end hitters, didn’t have a great defense, and had no bullpen depth. Throw in starting pitcher acquisitions struggling, and you have an underwhelming season.
Toronto has made it a point to fix as many holes as possible. The Blue Jays traded for Varsho and signed Kiermaier, both left-handed batters who are solid defenders. It cost them some power bats, but the core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman, and George Springer remains intact.
Then the bullpen got much-needed help with Swanson and possibly Green, already with an elite closer in Jordan Romano. Bassitt may not be an upgrade over Stripling, but he can at least maintain the same level.
Weaknesses: Pitching Question Marks
Despite Alek Manoah finishing third in Cy Young voting and Kevin Gausman looking solid, the other two returning names from the starting rotation were not great. José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi had ERAs over 5.00 starting a combined 52 games. Bassitt should help solidify the rotation, but he is also 34. Another question mark is the recovery of Hyun Jin Ryu after Tommy John surgery.
On top of that, while the bullpen got some much-needed support, will it be enough? Statistically it was not terrible last season, but the bullpen leaned heavily on the top players, with six relievers pitching in over 60 games. With more depth, that should help them secure close leads, but we need to see it in action.
Predictions for the 2023 Season
The expectations headed into 2023 have tamed compared to 2022. Much of that is due to the slow start last season and some big names no longer being on the roster. However, this Blue Jays team might have more promise.
The roster is more balanced, and if the starting pitchers that struggled last season figure it out, with a better bullpen behind them, Toronto could be dangerous. The Blue Jays lost some power bats, but the core remains. The biggest issue was the lack of balance last season, which seems to be mostly fixed.