The Toronto Blue Jays will be looking to improve on an impressive 2022 that saw the club finish with a 92-70 record and reach the postseason. The Blue Jays were unable to win the American League East – they finished seven games behind the New York Yankees – but they were comfortably in second as they finished six games up on the Tampa Bay Rays and nine ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
It is worth noting that all four of those teams finished with winning records in 2022, making the AL East the only division in baseball with four teams above .500. That makes home games especially important. The Blue Jays have to wait all the way until Tuesday, April 11, for their home opener when they take on the Detroit Tigers at the Rogers Centre. That is one of four home series for the Blue Jays in April, with the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, and Seattle Mariners all traveling north of the border early in the year.
Here are three questions for the Blue Jays ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
What do the new ballpark dimensions do?
The Blue Jays have shifted their lineup from pure right-handed power to a mixture of bats thanks to the addition of three lefties that can hit with pop. The reason for this is the new layout of Rogers Centre, with the outfield walls having been raised but also pulled in closer to the plate. The biggest movement is in right center, with that wall moved in a full 16 feet to sit at 359 feet from the plate. That is a significant change in dimensions, one that will completely change how the game is played in the stadium. The Blue Jays must adjust to their new dimensions and play accordingly quickly.
Does the new shift rule see more runs for the Blue Jays?
The Blue Jays will start two players who finish in the top 11 in pulled balls in 2022. Daulton Varsho was No. 1 in the category – and hit most of those balls without a ton of power – while George Springer was No. 11. The new rule against shifting means that teams must lineup with two players on either side of second base for every pitch. This means heavy infield shifts are a thing of the past, and players that are pulled ball happy – see above – will see a bunch of their routine outs turned into singles.
Can the pitching staff stay healthy?
Many teams need their starting pitching to stay healthy, and Toronto might be No. 1 on that list. Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah are good to very good (with flashes of great). Chris Bassitt will be a solid third starter, while you have no idea what you will get daily out of Yusei Kikuchi and Jose Berrios. Behind that, the cupboards are worryingly bare. This rotation is maybe eight arms deep, maybe. That isn’t enough for a full season.