2023-06-03 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Chris Bassitt struck out eight in 7.2 innings of work, to help the Blue Jays beat the Mets

Frank Franklin II/AP

Coming off a rather lackluster month of May in which the team suffered a whopping five series losses (including three sweeps), two days’ worth of June baseball has shown what high-end Blue Jays baseball can look like - mostly, anyways.
After taking two-out-of-three from both the Twins and Brewers, Toronto entered their weekend series against the Mets facing Justin Verlander. So naturally, a leadoff blast by George Springer - now second in MLB history hitting leadoff homers - was an impressive tone-setter. In hindsight, that’s all the Blue Jays would need.
7 ⅔ shutout innings from former Met Chris Bassitt later, accompanied by an additional two-run shot by Varsho in the ninth, and the Blue Jays found themselves 2-0 in the new month - fitting to go on a heater, as the city of Toronto feels its first heatwave. A good start amidst an endlessly-challenging part of the schedule, with a win tomorrow (or Sunday) securing Toronto’s third straight series win.
Holistically, a good sign. However, not all is well in the Jays’ rotation beyond Gausman and Bassitt - Manoah’s struggles continue, and the public discourse of what should be done about it continues to grow louder by the start. Whether AAA is a legitimate course of action is up for debate, but the problem remains; there are no realistic upgrades at the moment. The Bisons’ staff, with names like Drew Hutchison and Casey Lawrence, are having minimal success. Mitch White continues to get shelled, and Toronto’s more serious starting pitching prospects are not yet ready to make the jump to the majors. Not to mention, if Manoah’s issue is confidence in his command…what is AAA going to do? It’s still baseball, and you still have to hit your spots.
Trent Thornton, Thomas Hatch, and Zach Thompson were ideally supposed to provide at least some level of depth, but that hasn’t worked out either. The most productive pitchers in AAA are relievers, which does not solve the current problem either.
At the same time, Yusei Kikuchi has come back down to Earth somewhat too. Certainly not as bad as he was last year, however the longball continues to plague him intermittently. In his most recent outing, Kikuchi became the ninth Japanese player ever to record 500 strikeouts and 500 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, as he allowed two runs over five innings (and walked five!) versus Mikwaukee on Tuesday.
And although having gone 4-1 this week, scrutiny continues to follow around a certain member of the Jays’ bullpen; Anthony Bass. Perhaps the most hated Blue Jay by their own fan base since Roberto Osuna, Bass refused to answer questions about his most recent social media actions promoting anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric just days before Pride Month began. Had he not been pitching better of late, the increasingly negative baggage that Bass carries with him would easily be justification for a DFA. Alas, money talks, and Toronto has opted to hold onto him, for now at least.
Contrary to some of the more unfortunate news coming out of Toronto’s pitching staff, the White Sox welcomed back fan-favourite Liam Hendricks to the mound in his first Major League outing since defeating cancer. Stats be damned, just his presence on the mound was a site for sore eyes - especially to White Sox faithful, who haven’t had too many positives thus far in 2023.
Toronto keeps their series in New York going with Jose Berrios toeing the rubber on Saturday, followed by Yusei Kikuchi on Sunday. The Mets will counter with Tylor Megill and Kodai Senga, looking to avoid the impending doom of a .500 record and falling even further behind the mighty Atlanta Braves.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins


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