Fresh off a 91-win 2021 season that still left them watching the playoffs from home with a fourth-place finish, the 2022 Blue Jays won 92 games and this time landed the top Wild Card spot in the American League. As such, they’ll host a best-of-three set against a Mariners team making its first playoff appearance in two decades. Here’s their roster…
- Anthony Bass
- Jose Berrios
- Adam Cimber
- Yimi Garcia
- Kevin Gausman
- Alek Manoah (Game 1 starter)
- David Phelps
- Zach Pop
- Trevor Richards
- Jordan Romano
- Ross Stripling
Not many playoff clubs see a managerial change midseason, but the Jays are riding into postseason play with an interim manager (former bench coach John Schneider), thanks largely to a powerhouse lineup that slugged 200 home runs (seventh in MLB) and led the American League batting average (.264), on-base percentage (.329), slugging percentage (.431) and wRC+ (117).
The Jays won’t have outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. available to them this round, as he’s dealing with a hamstring injury that’ll keep him sidelined. That’ll push Tapia into today’s starting lineup as the left fielder — a notable step down in production at the plate. Gurriel hit .291/.343/.400 this season, whereas Tapia’s first year with the Jays resulted in a .265/.292/.380 slash.
Toronto will carry all three of its well-regarded catchers on the roster, giving them the luxury of plugging two of Jansen (.260/.339/.516), Kirk (.285/.372/.415) and Moreno (.319/.356/.377) in the lineup in each game without fear of losing the DH in the event of an injury behind the plate.
The Blue Jays have not yet announced the second and third starters of the series, but it’ll be Manoah going in Game 1. The former first-round pick broke out as a legitimate Cy Young contender in 2022, hurling 196 2/3 inning of 2.24 ERA ball with a 22.9% strikeout rate and 6.5% walk rate.
Gausman, signed to a five-year deal over the winter, thrived in his first season with the Jays and is a natural candidate to take the bump in Game 2, but there’s perhaps some consideration to saving him for either an elimination game this series or, in the event of a sweep, for a Game 1 appearance in the ALDS. Both Berrios and Kikuchi have been disappointments for the Jays in 2022, and although Berrios is the most established option for a third start this series, it’s possible that Stripling (2.92 ERA in 123 1/3 innings as a starter) will ultimately be the one to take the hill.