The Toronto Blue Jays are ready to take the next step. Last season came to a bitter end as they narrowly missed out on the playoffs. This season, the Blue Jays are certainly hunting for a division title, and they’ve done some work to retool their roster. Health will be essential for the team, and as far as job battles go, there are some bench spots up for grabs. Before they open their season against the Texas Rangers, here’s a look at the Blue Jays season preview.
2022 Blue Jays Season Preview
Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk
The Blue Jays will carry two catchers instead of three. They were going to run with three backstops on the 28-man roster. All offseason, MLB teams have been calling the Blue Jays about their backstops, and Reese McGuire is now a member of the Chicago White Sox. Now that McGuire is out of the pitcher, Danny Jansen will continue catching duties. Alejandro Kirk will have the opportunity to get more playing time. If he’s not behind the plate backing up Jansen, he’ll serve as the team’s DH. He would have to clear waivers to be sent down but will likely be on the Opening Day roster. There’s no idea how long this catching duo will last, especially if Gabriel Moreno is closing in on his big league debut.
Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Matt Chapman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Gasuko Katoh, Santiago Espinal,
Toronto has the third baseman they were searching for all along. Matt Chapman will be a significant upgrade at the hot corner as he is a three-time Gold Glove recipient. He’s known for his extensive range with a strong arm too, which should help Vladimir Guerro Jr. at first. The move gives Cavan Biggio more opportunities to play at his best defensive position, second base. Biggio struggled at third, owning a .940 fielding percentage with -2 defensive runs saved. Santiago Espinal will get some time at second, too, while being used as Toronto’s utility infielder. The former New York Yankees’ top prospect, Greg Bird, had quite the spring. With a 1.200 OPS in 18 at-bats, Bird was cut from the Blue Jays. Instead of Bird, the Blue Jays plan to use Gasuko Katoh, who will get his first taste of MLB. The left-handed hitter will come off the bench when needed. Katoh didn’t reach Double-A until 2018 as he began his professional back in 2013.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernández, George Springer, Raimel Tapia
The outfield remains the same with only one difference. Out goes Randal Grichuk, in comes Ramiel Tapia. The Blue Jays now have a more diversified outfield. They swapped Grichuk, a right-handed power hitter, for Tapia, a left-handed contact hitter. Tapia gives Montoyo another southpaw hitter into the lineup against right-handed pitchers or as an option off the bench. His speed could be beneficial on the base paths too. From a positional standpoint, he has experience playing left field in the majors, with some experience playing centre field in the minors. Tapia could alternate days that George Springer can’t play in the outfield.
Jose Berríos, Kevin Gausman, Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, Yusei Kikuchi
Jose Berríos will be the team’s Opening Day starter. Kevin Gausman, Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, and Yusei Kikuchi will follow Berríos in the rotation. It makes a ton of sense for Berríos and Gausman to lead the rotation since they are being paid big money and put up excellent campaigns last season. The rotation order also gives an advantage to Hyun Jin Ryu since it separates the lefties and gives opposing batters different looks on either sides of Ryu. Alek Manoah, who was a mid-season callup, will look to build on his breakout 2021 season. Yusei Kikuchi is coming off an unbalanced year. His strong first half earned him an All-Star selection, but in the second half, he struggled with consistency. All Kikuchi needs to do is keep his team in games. He has the upside of an impact arm, and the Blue Jays hope to help him do so.
Ryan Borucki, Adam Cimber, Yimi García, Tim Mayza, Julian Merryweather, David Phelps, Nate Pearson, Trevor Richards, Jordan Romano, Ross Stripling
Most spots are already penciled in with six relievers. Adam Cimber, Yimi Garcia, Tim Mayza, Trevor Richards, Jordan Romano, and Ross Stripling are guaranteed spots on the team. Ryan Borucki, Julian Merryweather, Nate Pearson, and David Phelps will round out the bullpen. If their starters can’t go deep into games, they will want to cover innings as much as possible. Nate Pearson and Ross Stripling should have a chance at being the spot starter. Jordan Romano will be the closer. After him, expect Yimi García and Tim Mayza to appear in high leverage situations for the bullpen. As for the rest, they will likely be middle-inning relievers from the get-go.
Blue Jays Season Preview Outlook
The 2019 Blue Jays won 67 games. However, the 91 wins last season show that the Blue Jays are on the right track. They will continue to cause headaches for opposing teams with their lethal offense and strong pitching core. The 2022 Blue Jays should be the most excited anyone has been about this club in decades. The front office continues to make moves for a serious run to return to the Fall Classic. The star power, depth, veteran presence, and playoff experience are all there. Toronto is not only good enough to be in the hunt for their first AL East division title since 2015 but perhaps even more.
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Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, Reese McGuire, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Matt Chapman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Santiago Espinal, Greg Bird, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernández, George Springer, Raimel Tapia Jose Berríos, Kevin Gausman, Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, Yusei Kikuchi, Ryan Borucki, Adam Cimber, Yimi García, Tim Mayza, Julian Merryweather, David Phelps, Nate Pearson, Trevor Richards, Jordan Romano, Ross Stripling