We’re just a few games into the Grapefruit League season and the Toronto Blue Jays are stretching their legs and testing out their line-ups ahead of the new season.
However, there are a few KEY players and areas that need to be right in order for the Jays to be in Championship form.
Let’s take a look…
Will he be healthy? Well according to the Outfielder himself, ‘it feels good to feel good’ and it would be beneficial to the team to keep his health at close to 100%.
His health was an issue over the last two seasons, playing 211 in the 324 games of that period, but ailing throughout. Bone spurs in his elbow really affected his game.
It seems that’s all ancient history now and he can be a valuable Right-Fielder. Perhaps the Jays could make him designated hitter twice a week.
While being one of Jay’s top-level defenders, he could be a very capable hitter. In over 200 games with the Jays since 2021, he racked up 47 Home-Runs, 126 RBI, a slightly improved Batting Average of .267 and a On-Base Percentage averaging around .348.
‘When he is fully healthy, he is definitely a game-changer,’ Blue Jays new manager John Schneider has said.
Will Berríos rebound? The Right-Handed Pitcher had a bit of a blip towards the end of the 2022 season.
He ended the season leading the American League with an ERA of 5.23. That was something unheard of given Berríos’ past performances.
In the previous four years, he was recording an ERA of 4.00 or lower (2017 – 2021).
What is also significant to look at are his starts. In eight of his 32 starts, he struggled to get out of the 5th inning where he went 0 – 5 with an 18.63 ERA. Maybe it was just a blip. The 24 games which followed had Berrios recording a 3.09 ERA and a 12-2 record.
Going into the new season, he has a 4.24 ERA average.
The New Outfield Trio
There’s a new Outfield Trio that’s going to shake up the Blue Jays season. Kevin ‘KK’ Kiermaier, George Springer (whom we mentioned before) and the recently acquired Daulton Varsho.
This trio of catchers will succeed the powerhouse of Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk & Gabriel Moreno, which are a duo now that Moreno was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
KK joined the Blue Jays back in December from the Tampa Bay Rays. The Centerfielder walks into the new season having gained in 2022 a .993 Fielding Percentage made up of 139 PutOuts, 142 Chances and 482.1 Innings. He also started 56 of the 60 games he appeared in.
He’s a welcome addition given the Jays plays he’s collapsed in the past. His first season with the team will also important as it marks his return to form following surgery on his hip.
Likewise, Varsho was another pick up in the Offseason from the Arizona Diamondbacks and he’ll be playing as Left Fielder. He’s got a .994 Fielding Percentage made up of 167 PutOuts, 174 Chances and in 541.2 Innings. He also started 61 of the 71 games he played.
What’s also interesting is that he lead all other Outfielders with 18 Outs above average last season.
‘It’s awesome. You’re surrounded by really good defensive players who love to go after the ball and play the game hard.’