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Who Is the Blue Jays’ #1 Starter?

A set of four reflective black casino ace cards with gold markings floating in the air on a dark classy background

After a Cy Young runner-up campaign in 2019, Hyun Jin Ryu took his talents to Toronto to serve in the role of #1 starter for an emerging playoff hopeful. José Berríos joined the Blue Jays for a 2021 stretch run that fell short, signing a seven-year extension in the offseason. The Jays’ next move was to acquire Kevin Gausman after declining to pursue 2021 Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray in free agency.

Toronto now has three legitimate #1 starters. Which player deserves the mantle of franchise ace in 2022?

Gausman had the best 2021 season of the three with a 2.81 ERA (145 ERA+) and 5.4 bWAR, while Berríos posted an excellent 122 ERA+. Ryu’s 4.37 ERA (100 ERA+) was average, down considerably from his 2020 ERA of 2.69 (164 ERA+).

José Berríos 3.52 122 3.47 9.6 4.53 3.2
Kevin Gausman 2.81 145 3.00 10.6 4.54 5.4
Hyun Jin Ryu 4.37 100 4.02 7.6 3.86 1.7

However, the role of #1 starter often goes to the pitcher with the best overall track record and longest tenure with the franchise. Ryu has been with Toronto since the 2020 season and has the best career numbers of the three pitchers, as can be seen below:

José Berríos 4.04 108 3.95 9.1 3.22 10.8
Kevin Gausman 4.02 105 3.88 8.9 3.36 16.9
Hyun Jin Ryu 3.20 124 3.42 8.1 4.04 19.4

My starting rotation would be as follows:

  1. Ryu
  2. Gausman
  3. Berríos
  4. Alek Manoah
  5. Yusei Kikuchi

Watch Ryu demonstrate his pinpoint accuracy in a friendly skills competition.

What do you think of my proposed starting rotation? Leave a comment!