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José Berríos Is Making All the Right Adjustments

José Berríos has been on one of the most consistent stretches of his career. Yesterday, he held the New York Mets to a run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over six innings. Berríos has a 2.48 ERA in his last 10 outings, the second best-ERA over a 10-start span since his MLB debut. He’s throwing at five innings each time out on this stretch. Berrios finally feels confident, finding his game that made him so effective earlier in his career. If he can keep it up, his 2023 season will overshadow last season. It could be an actual bounce-back campaign for someone who deserves it.

José Berríos Bounce Back

2022 Was Forgettable

2022 was not very kind to Berríos. He had big expectations, as he got the ball on Opening Day 2022 and never really found his footing after that. He tied with Germán Márquez for the major league lead in earned runs allowed with 100. But that’s not all, as he allowed the most hits in the American League with 199. Posting a 5.23 ERA in the first year of his seven-year contract extension was ideal. The setback would be one for Berríos to rework his game in the offseason, eventually paying off in Spring Training.

Lowering Velocity on Breaking Ball

Berríos has been fine-tuning his arsenal, including tweaking his breaking ball. He’s taken a few mph of his breaking ball, which has helped him command more effectively. When he throws it to the arm side of the plate, he lands it on the edge of the strike zone. What helps him even more, is when he throws it to the glove side as he tries to get swing-and-miss stuff from opposing batters. It’s been an interesting adjustment for Berrios; he’s throwing his breaking ball as slowly as he threw back in 2019.

 Changeup Improvements

Developing his changeup into a more swing-and-miss weapon is working well. In the past, his misses with the pitch were off the plate away, easy takes for the batter to hit. Now, Berríos goes right after the zone, letting the pitch’s movement go to the corner. Those misses are below the zone where batters are still tempted to chase after it. His 24.3% whiff rate on the change last season is now 38.8%.

A substantial increase for one of his most effective pitches. It hasn’t helped opposing teams place southpaw hitters against Berríos. Changeups move down and away, out of the danger zones. Plus, the off-speed will sometimes keep batters sitting on his two fastballs. It’s been a good pitch for Berríos; he wasn’t using it effectively.

Chemistry in the Rotation

A big reason for Berríos having success is the starting rotation. Much of that chemistry was developed last season, but adding Chris Bassitt has further solidified it. The fondness of the five starters is on full display at ballparks. They watch each other’s bullpen sessions, and after the starter warms up, the pitchers on their off-day walk with him from the bullpen to the dugout. Having a tight-knit group like what the Blue Jays have for their rotation will go a long way to trusting and supporting each other.

Photo Credit: © Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Players mentioned:

José Berríos, Germán Márquez, Chris Bassitt 


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