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  1. #31
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    Sep 2007
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    The Blue Jays Get José Berríos, Their ’21 and ’22 Pitching Solution
    by Ben Clemens
    July 30, 2021

    The Jays have conflicting interests at this deadline. They’re 4.5 games out of the second wild card spot and had a 25.9% chance of reaching the playoffs before adding Berríos to the mix. That’s a great reason to go for it, but it also merits caution; the team is so stacked and so young that this might be the worst Toronto squad of the next three or four years, not the best. Trading for a bevy of rentals two years too early would hardly be a crippling blow, but with such a talented roster, building for the future and the present would beat doing only one or the other.

    Enter Berríos, who has posted the best FIP, xFIP, and ERA of his career this year, and it’s not like he was a slouch in previous seasons, either. Every indicator is pointing up: He has his highest career strikeout rate, his second-lowest walk rate (a sterling 6.5%), and highest ground-ball rate. At this point, you should think of him as a workhorse, too: He made 32 starts in 2018 and ’19, a full 12 in ’20, and has made 20 starts already this year.

    That’s not to say there aren’t warning signs; there are always warning signs if you look at a pitcher long enough. A 10.2% swinging-strike rate is below league average, which makes you wonder how sustainable the strikeouts are. Since the June 21 enforcement of grip-enhancing substances, his four-seam fastball has had less bite, though it’s missed just as many bats; it’s never been a swing-and-miss monster at the top of the zone, so he’s perhaps less affected than most by losing some ride.

    Luckily, Berríos has an easy counter: lean harder on his sinker, which is the better of the two fastballs in any case. It misses nearly as many bats as the four-seamer and results in weaker contact when hitters put a bat on it. Perhaps most importantly, he’s a surgeon with the pitch, spotting it to both sides of the plate with aplomb. Thanks for playing, Amed Rosario, but you can take a seat now:

    In fact, his sinker does a better job getting from two strikes to three than his four-seamer despite inducing fewer whiffs, because he gets a ton of looking strikeouts — 14 out of the 142 sinkers he’s thrown in two-strike counts this year, a top-20 rate in baseball. That makes up for his relative inability to miss bats with the two fastballs; the reason analysts drool over swinging strikes instead of called strikes is because it’s hard to get strike three looking, but Berríos doesn’t have that problem.

    He also has a two-plane curveball and a mid-80s changeup that he’s increasingly leveraged against lefties of late; he throws it between 20 and 25% of the time to them and mostly avoids using the pitch against righties. Four pitches and a heaping helping of control gives him a high floor, and he delivers that over an enviably large workload; his six-plus innings per start ranks ninth among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings this year.

    Oh, and Berríos will be back for next year’s campaign as well. He’ll go through the arbitration process one more time before hitting free agency after the 2022 season, which gives the Jays two bites at the postseason apple with him in tow. With most of their hitters under team control for a while — only Marcus Semien and rental Corey Dickerson are eligible for free agency this upcoming offseason — bolstering the pitching staff for the future was always at the top of Toronto’s to-do list.

    In fact, I’d argue that the team is priced into negotiating an extension. It’s not that the Jays have to, but with Guerrero, Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Alek Manoah, and plenty more players still on pre-arbitration or early arbitration contracts, there’s space on the payroll to use for pitching. Pitchers like Berríos (and Ray, should they retain him) would suit their needs perfectly: they’re good right now and still young enough to compete for years alongside the team’s young core.

    Between Berríos, Ryu, a suddenly strike-throwing Ray, and Manoah, the Jays should be able to assemble a solid postseason rotation. They’re still a bit light on fifth starters — Steven Matz has been hit-or-miss, Ross Stripling has mainly been miss — but the 2022 rotation could add Nate Pearson (relief-only this year as he returns from injury) and get truly fearsome. With the firepower it can bring to bear, Toronto mainly needs competence and innings out of its pitching staff, and pairing Berríos and Ryu at the top gives it a solid shot at just that.

    You have to spend money to make money, as the saying goes, and the Jays shipped out two legit prospects to bring Berríos into the fold. Kevin and Eric will have more expansive coverage, but for our purposes, they’re both 50 FV types (Martin is down since our preseason report) and borderline top-100 names with relatively short paths to the majors — 2022 for Martin, ‘22 or ‘23 for Woods Richardson. They could have contributed to the next great Toronto team, but they might also not be ready in time, or never be ready, and Berríos is definitively good right this minute.

    “Right this minute” matters less to the Twins, which makes this return a solid one from their perspective. They’re completely out of the hunt this year, but would still like to compete in 2022 and beyond; Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sanó highlight a team with plenty of offensive talent, and it would surprise no one if they brought Nelson Cruz back for another tour of duty when his contract expires this winter. Martin could fit into their plans at shortstop or in center field if Buxton leaves, though he still doesn’t have a clear defensive position.

    Woods Richardson is a pitcher, so who knows! It’s hard to figure out when minor league pitchers will figure into the big league club’s plans. Given the Twins’ designs on competing for a number of years to come, however, he seems like a good fit; he’s not a tooled-up 18-year-old who won’t hit the scene until 2025, but he’s enough of an unfinished product that there’s still a chance for a velo uptick or some other boost to his stock.

    If we’re scoring trades for one side or another, I like this trade for the Twins more than for the Jays. To my eyes, Berríos made so much sense in Toronto that they almost had to make the highest bid for him, and the Twins used that to get a solid prospect haul. That said, the Blue Jays really needed a durable pitcher who was controllable beyond this year, and they got their man. Given the extreme league-wide prospect-hugging of the past two years, I thought they might be able to surrender less of a haul to get it done, but Minnesota seemed to have diamond hands in the negotiation and got a nice return for its troubles. It’s a win-win, but the Twins won more, in my first estimation.

    Between this trade and last night’s Dodgers/Nationals barn-burner, top-100 prospects seem to be back on the menu. That makes a lot of sense to me; teams who are currently competing should be shifting future resources to the present more than they have in recent years. Berríos will probably be the second-most-desirable player moved at this deadline (after Trea Turner), and these two trades are setting the market for stars with team control that extends past the current year. Want a controllable stud? You’ll have to hand over some valuable prospects to do it, and some of the most analytical front offices in the game are increasingly willing to do so.
    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-blue...hing-solution/


    The Lost Boys of PSD

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Abbotsford B.C.
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    1,190
    Quote Originally Posted by Sasky05 View Post
    I agree we paid a big price, but that's the market. We're only 4.5 back in the WC. They have the best offence of all WC contenders, (even with the Yankees moves). Our rotation is now as good as WC contenders. We need to add to the bullpen and we have a good shot at the WC. We get there and line up Berrios, Ryu and Ray in the play-offs, I'll take my chances. The great part of the trade is the control with Berrios. I think we'll see Ray back in a jays uniform in 2022. Berrios, Ryu, Ray, Strips, and Manoah look pretty good to me. Pearson, Hatch for depth. I think we'll be better to start 2022 than we were this year.

    The down side is losing Martin IMO, but Groshans is putting up better numbers in AA than Martin. At some point you have to take a risk, remember the David Cone trade, we sent a HOFer away, that one still paid off.
    Yes I do remember it and hopefully we get same result
    Vancouver Canucks
    Toronto Blue Jays
    San Francisco 49's

  3. #33
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    Jan 2007
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    Ontario
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    14,936
    Joakim Soria coming too.

  4. #34
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    Dec 2005
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    Rogers Centre
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    25,237
    Sucks to lose SWR but I’m just okay with it consolidating we have a great 1/2 punch atop the rotation now.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
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    3,228

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Posts
    238
    Quote Originally Posted by R. Johnson#3 View Post
    Sucks to lose SWR but I’m just okay with it consolidating we have a great 1/2 punch atop the rotation now.
    Don't you mean 1/2/3/4. Berrios, Ryu, Ray, Manoah is as good a top 4 as any in the AL imo.

  7. #37
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    Dec 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasky05 View Post
    Don't you mean 1/2/3/4. Berrios, Ryu, Ray, Manoah is as good a top 4 as any in the AL imo.
    I was mainly referring to elite level pitchers. Don’t get me wrong, Ray and Manoah have been great this year and make an excellent 3/4 combo.

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    7,667
    Quote Originally Posted by R. Johnson#3 View Post
    I was mainly referring to elite level pitchers. Don’t get me wrong, Ray and Manoah have been great this year and make an excellent 3/4 combo.
    Robbie Ray has been our #1 this year, not a 3/4. The guy has been an all star in the past and should have been one this year too. He has an ERA of 3.04 and 150 K's in 118 IP. I would say we definitely have at least 3 if not 4 elite level SP's right now the way Manoah has looked too. I can understand not calling Manoah one yet, but Ray has been an elite SP this year. The best we have in fact. He has been the steal of the off season for sure.....and right behind him may be Marcus Semien.

    The Jays currently have the 6th best team ERA in the AL, and after adding Berrios to their rotation and Hand, Soria, Cimber, Richards and in a way Borucki I would take our pitching staff over anyone in the AL other than maybe the White Sox with their 3 headed monster of Giolito, Rodon and Lynn with Hendriks and Kimbrel at the back end of their bullpen. The only thing they have struggled in this season is one run ballgames. The back end of the bullpen just wasn't deep enough and the guys we did have that were effective were getting overworked. I totally expect to see us among the best in the team ERA in the AL at the end of the season. Especially in the 2nd half.

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Rogers Centre
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    Quote Originally Posted by bartron_44 View Post
    Robbie Ray has been our #1 this year, not a 3/4. The guy has been an all star in the past and should have been one this year too. He has an ERA of 3.04 and 150 K's in 118 IP. I would say we definitely have at least 3 if not 4 elite level SP's right now the way Manoah has looked too. I can understand not calling Manoah one yet, but Ray has been an elite SP this year. The best we have in fact. He has been the steal of the off season for sure.....and right behind him may be Marcus Semien.

    The Jays currently have the 6th best team ERA in the AL, and after adding Berrios to their rotation and Hand, Soria, Cimber, Richards and in a way Borucki I would take our pitching staff over anyone in the AL other than maybe the White Sox with their 3 headed monster of Giolito, Rodon and Lynn with Hendriks and Kimbrel at the back end of their bullpen. The only thing they have struggled in this season is one run ballgames. The back end of the bullpen just wasn't deep enough and the guys we did have that were effective were getting overworked. I totally expect to see us among the best in the team ERA in the AL at the end of the season. Especially in the 2nd half.
    Would you be willing to pay elite level money for Ray in the off-season then? He’s been amazing this year but his career has been defined by inconsistency. Pitchers like Ryu and Berrios are consistently great. Berrios also seems to get better every season aside from the shortened one.

    Let’s put it this way. Who would you rather give a 5 year 125 million dollar contract to, Robbie Ray or Jose Berrios?

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