Blue Jays Starting Pitching Midseason Report Cards
The first half of the season has raced by and the Blue Jays are in 3rd place in the AL East. Their offense has been great, their starting pitching has been good, while their bullpen has been iffy at points. With that in mind, it is time for midseason report cards.
Hyun Jin Ryu is hard to grade completely fairly. He started out his season very well, with a 2.62 ERA through April and May. However, from May through present day, he has raised his ERA to 3.56. To be fair, Danny Jansen injured himself on June 6, and did not return until July 4. It is very possible that Ryu will get his season fully back on track in the 2nd half of the season, but his grade is based on what he has done so far, regardless of catcher.
Robbie Ray has been great all year. He has been able to drop his BB/9 from a depressing 7.8 in 2020 to just 2.1 this year. His K/9 rate has almost stayed the same, at an elite 11.6. He has pitched to the tune of a 142 ERA+, his 2nd best year in that regard, only behind 2017, when he was an All-Star and ended 7th in Cy Young Voting. Ray has done what he was asked to do and then some, and the stats echo that. Robbie Ray is the Blue Jays’ co-ace.
Steven Matz came over to the Blue Jays in a low-risk trade for both teams involved. The Mets gave the Jays a pitcher who had not truly had a great season since 2016, and was especially bad in 2020. The Jays gave up 1 pitcher with professional experience, Sean Reid Foley, who, in his 71.2 innings in Toronto, had amassed 0.1 WAR. The Jays also traded away 2 relatively unknown minor leaguers. Matz was asked by the Blue Jays to be a decent middle-to-low part of the rotation guy. He has done a fine job of this. Nothing in his stats will wow you, a 4.72 ERA and a 94 ERA+, but he has been passable. He has given the Blue Jays’ offense chances to win, as shown with a 7-4 record, and that is all you can ask for.
Ross Stripling has been a great pitcher this year, at least in the second quarter of the season. Through May 19, Stripling had a 7.20 ERA. Since then, though, in 9 starts, Stripling has lowered his ERA to 4.34 and now has an above-average ERA+ of 102. He was 3rd in the Jays’ rotation at the start of the year, and he has shown that he can handle being in this position. His grade is hurt by his first several starts, but the grade does not show the full picture of Stripling’s year.
Alek Manoah is the Blue Jays’ 5th starter this year only because he started the year in the minor leagues. Nothing about his performance has caused him to be a 5th starter type of guy. Through 40.1 innings pitched, he has a 2.90 ERA and 52 strikeouts. He averages over 5 innings per start and has a whip of just 1.066. His performance is better than any Blue Jays fan could have hoped for, especially in his first 8 career starts. Expect Manoah to be a very quality pitcher for the rest of this year and in later years.