3 big questions for the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason

Sep 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher David Phelps (35) in action during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher David Phelps (35) in action during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ross Stripling. Photo by John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ross Stripling. Photo by John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

1. Who will fill out the Toronto rotation?

The Blue Jays have Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah penciled in as the top two in their rotation for 2023, but things get very cloudy after that.

José Berríos will be back, but he is returning after a dreadful 2023 (5.23 ERA/4.55 FIP/1.419 WHIP) where his 199 hits and 100 earned runs surrendered both led the American League. Signed to a seven-year, $131 million deal last offseason, the Blue Jays have to have a rebound year from the 28-year-old right-hander.

The same could be said for Yusei Kikuchi, who was pulled from the rotation after his August 15 start and spent the rest of the season in the bullpen. The 31-year-old southpaw struggled in both scenarios (5.25 ERA as starter and 4.91 as reliever). Expect the Blue Jays to give him another shot in the rotation, hoping he can turn things around in 2023.

Mitch White is another potential option for the Toronto rotation, but bounced between Triple-A Buffalo and Toronto after being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2022 trade deadline.

So that’s three question marks for the Toronto rotation, and that doesn’t take into account Ross Stripling, who pitched well for the Jays in the regular season (3.01 ERA in 32 games (24 starts) covering 134.1 innings). However, he enters the offseason as a free agent.

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If there’s anywhere Toronto may once again pounce in the offseason, it’s in the rotation. Berríos and Kikuchi were investments for the Blue Jays last offseason, and it appears Toronto will need to go back into free agency this winter as both investments did not provide a great return in 2022.