3 Players To Watch Series
LOD’s 3 Players to Watch: Toronto Blue Jays
Sorry folks as I am late to the party with our last of the 3 Players to Watch series for MLB teams in 2023.
The Toronto Blue Jays have done a great job with building up their line-up with great young power bats, but they just have not been able to make it back to the Worlds Series since they won back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993. As of Sunday games, they are 10-6, and tied with the New York Yankees, behind 1st place Tampa Bay Rays (14-2).
Even with a potent line-up, pitching is what wins games and for Toronto to be able to keep up with the Yankees and Rays, they will need their pitching to step it up this season. These three pitchers are key to a successful regular season and deep run in the postseason.
Chris Bassitt was traded to the New York Mets from from the Oakland Athletics on March 12, 2022 for two minor league pitchers. In 2022, he was 15-9, a 3.42 ERA, and 167 strikeouts through 181.2 innings pitched. The 15 wins were the most of his eight years in the majors dating back to his MLB debut with the Athletics in 2014.
Instead of returning back to the Mets, Bassitt chose free agency and on December 16, he signed a free agent contract with the Blue Jays for three years.
Bassitt had some good stretches with the Mets when he looked like the best pitcher on the field but when it counted the most he was roughed up in the NLWS against the San Diego Padres, allowing three runs on three hits, three walks in four innings on the mound, while taking the loss.
During this past spring training, Bassitt was 1-1, with a 5.60 ERA in five appearances (four starts) and that carried over into the regular season as he lost his first game after tossing 3.1 innings, while allowing nine runs, on 10 hits, no strikeoutrs and four home runs. The Toledo, OH native settled down in his next strat to earn the victory after tossing six innings, allowing two runs on three hits, with five strierkoits. But he also had some control issues as he walked five batters. In his last start he took the loss as the Jays could only muster one run on eight hits in a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
If the Blue Jays are going to be true contenders, they will need Bassitt to be consistent on the mound and keep the offense in their games.
Good and reliant closers are what all teams need to close out game and the jays Jordan Romano has been good and reliable for the pas three seasons with Toronto. In 2021 he saved 23 of 24 chances and posted a 7-1 record with a 2.14 ERA in 62 games. In 2022, the Markham, ON, Canada native was 36 for 42, posting a 5-4 record, with a 2.11 ERA through 63 games.
This season, Romano was 5 for 5 in his first five save opportunities, but after he blew a save against the Los Angeles Angels on April 9th and won his second game of the season after the Jays walked off the Detroit Tigers, he then saved the last two appearances, both against the Rays.
On November 16, 2022, Erik Swanson was traded to the Jays along with LHP Adam Macko from the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Teoscar Hernandez. During the 2022 season with the mariners, Swanson was 3-2, with a 1.68 ERa, with 14 holds, 3 for 5 in save opportunities, striking out 70 batters in 53.2 innings.
So far in 2023, Swanson already has six holds and opponents are batting just .148 against him through eight innings.
The Jays can make some noise in 2023 and battle for the Division crown so enter with a Wild Card spot again and take down the big teams, like the Philadelphia Phillies did in 2022 postseason. All eyes on the Blue Jays in 2023 as they are over due.