Red Sox opponent profile: What to know about the 2022 Toronto Blue Jays
Jun 14, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) rounds third base after hitting a game tying home run during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
As one of four AL East teams with 90 or more wins in 2021, the Toronto Blue Jays return in 2022 poised to make another run and reach the playoffs for the first time in two seasons. With young stars and new acquisitions, Toronto could take even another step forward this season.
DUNEDIN, FLORIDA – APRIL 02: Matt Chapman #26 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during a Grapefruit League spring training game at TD Ballpark on April 02, 2022 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Infielder Matt Chapman and starter Kevin Gausman headline the wave of new talent heading north of the border. Chapman was one of the multiple talented players traded from the Athletics in Oakland’s recent fire sale. Chapman is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball and has potential at the plate. While he has struggled offensively over the last two seasons, Chapman can still make an impact in the lineup and has power with 27 home runs a year ago.
Gausman was one of the top starters on the market after experiencing a career renaissance under the Giants’ analytical movement. As a part of the group that won 107 games and an NL West title, Gausman went 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA in a league-high 33 starts with 227 strikeouts to just 50 walks. Each player looks to make an immediate impact with a Blue Jays team on the rise.
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 29: Marcus Semien #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays rounds the bases on his home run in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre on September 29, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Infielder Marcus Semien and starter Robbie Ray headline the key departures from Toronto this offseason. Both had career years with the Blue Jays in 2021. After signing a one-year deal and switching positions from shortstop to second base, Semien excelled. He played in all 162 games, posting a .873 OPS with 45 home runs, the most all-time in a single season for a second baseman. The season paid off to earn Semien a seven-year deal with the Texas Rangers for $175 million.
For Ray, the left-hander shined on the mound, posting a 13-7 record and a league-best 2.84 ERA. Ray also led the league in strikeouts (248), innings pitched (193.1), WHIP (1.045), and ERA+ (154). The season culminated with Ray being named the 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner.
TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 06: Alek Manoah #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the first inning of their MLB game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre on August 6, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Gausman joins a deep rotation with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, Jose Berrios, and Yusei Kikuchi. Ryu had a terrific 2020 season with a 2.69 ERA and still won 14 games a year ago. Berrios, fresh off of signing a seven-year, $131 million extension, came over at the trade deadline last season, went 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA for a Toronto club that barely missed the postseason. Kikuchi comes to the Blue Jays from Seattle on a three-year deal to add another left-hander to the rotation.
Manoah has the sequencing and stuff to become one of the best young pitchers in baseball, posting a 9-2 record and a 3.22 ERA while striking out 10.2 batters per nine innings in 20 starts last season. With pieces such as Jordan Romano and David Phelps, the bullpen will look to back up quality starts to lock down wins.
TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 20: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the fourth inning at Rogers Centre on August 20, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
The Blue Jays offer one of the most complete lineups in baseball. Led by AL MVP runner-up Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the young slugger belted 48 home runs last season while hitting .311 and leading the league in runs (123), OBP (.401), slugging percentage (.601), OPS (1.002), OPS+ (169) and total bases (363). Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio round out a core of young talent with Bichette providing a mix of contact and power (.298, league-leading 191 hits, 29 HR) while Biggio developing with the bat.
If he can stay healthy, George Springer has the potential to more than live up to his six-year, $150 million contract. Chapman looks to bounce back in a new home and Teoscar Hernandez continues to grow as an underrated player in the AL East (.296, 32 HR in 2021). The lineup could look something like this:
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – JULY 09: Manager Charlie Montoyo #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 09, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Charlie Montoyo enters his fourth season as Toronto’s manager with plenty of promise. With young talent beginning to make an impact in the majors, Montoyo’s club is poised to make a playoff run and get back to the postseason. Toronto did make the postseason in 2020 before falling to Tampa Bay in the wild card round.