The Toronto Blue Jays are poised for another postseason berth in 2023. Toronto’s 2022 season ended in one of the worst ways it could have, as the Blue Jays blew a seven-run lead to the Seattle Mariners in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card series.
This season brings high expectations and a newfound hopefulness for fans north of the border. Regardless if they are the last team standing come the end of October, the Blue Jays will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting teams to watch in 2023 for several reasons.
After back-to-back 90+ win seasons, the Blue Jays enter 2023 with one of the franchise’s best chances to win a World Series. The front office made several key moves to bolster the roster in the offseason, and despite playing in arguably the best division in baseball, Blue Jays fans should like their chances this season.
3. Addition of Chris Bassitt
The biggest splash by the Blue Jays this offseason was the signing of starting pitcher Chris Bassitt, who Toronto signed to a three-year, $63 million deal. Bassitt struggled to establish himself early in his career, tossing just 191.1 innings from 2014-2018. He missed all of the 2017 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
In 2019 he finally threw more than 100 innings in a season and had a breakout year in the shortened 2020 season, finishing eighth in American League Cy Young Award voting. Bassitt followed that up with another top-10 finish in 2021.
Last season with the New York Mets, Bassitt had career highs in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched, sporting a more than respectable 3.42 ERA in 30 starts.
Bassitt is the perfect middle-of-the-rotation arm for the Blue Jays. With Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman manning the top, Bassitt won’t be asked to do much other than get into the sixth inning in as many starts as he can. In 2022, Bassitt went at least six innings in 23 of his starts and was pulled before the sixth in just four of his appearances on the mound.
It’s a bonus that Bassitt is more than just an innings-eater, though he’s not a bonafide ace. He earned his payday and the Blue Jays were wise enough to give it to him. Now he has to pay them back and be a reliable third starter every fifth day.
2. George Springer is healthy
When the Blue Jays signed George Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal before the 2021 season, they expected an MVP-caliber player. While Springer was that when he played, he was only able to suit up for 78 games in his first season in Toronto. Springer again missed time last season due to elbow inflammation, though he did play in 133 games.
Entering the 2023 season, Springer looks as healthy as he’s ever been and says he feels good too. He’s played consistently in spring training, logging 49 at-bats across 16 games.
If Springer can stay healthy and play 140+ games, something he’s only done three times in his nine-year career, the sky is the limit for the Blue Jays in 2023. Springer is one of the best and most consistent leadoff hitters in baseball. With the way the Blue Jays lineup is laid out behind Springer, opposing pitchers will have no time to relax on the mound.
The addition of Kevin Kiermaier to play center field also takes a bit of pressure off of Springer defensively. He’ll slide over to right field and handle some time as a designated hitter, which should only help his health even more. Springer may not be a perennial MVP candidate this season, but he’s still one of the 50 best players in Major League Baseball.
1. Blue Jays have a top 5 offense
Top to bottom, the Blue Jays lineup is stacked. There are no breaks for opposing pitchers. George Springer, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lead the way up top, with names like Matt Chapman and Whit Merrifield to follow. Add in newcomers Daulton Varsho and Brandon Belt and you have maybe the scariest lineup in baseball.
Last season Toronto ranked in the top five in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and runs scored. There’s no reason why they can’t replicate those same numbers this season.
The Blue Jays shored up the balance in their lineup with the additions mentioned above. The key will be health because this offense seems way too talented on paper to falter throughout the season. Sure it will likely have its bad stretches like any lineup does, but if this Blue Jays offense is clicking at the right time, they are not going to be a team opponents want to see in October.
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