2 Players The 2023 Season Hinges On: Toronto Blue Jays

We know that Vladimir Guerrero and Bo Bichette are going to do Vlad and Bo things. We also know that Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman are going to be a vaunted 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. 

But who are the X-Factors who could lift this Toronto Blue Jays team to the promised land this season (i.e. a long playoff run and a World Series appearance)? The players whose performances the Jays' season hinges on...

Daulton Varsho

The blossoming 26-year-old slugger and defensive dynamo was added in a big offseason trade, with the Jays sending their No. 1 prospect Gabriel Moreno and fan favorite Lourdes Gurriel to the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

But Varsho brings things neither of those did to the lineup: Supreme defense in the outfield, nice speed on the bases, and a football mentality out on the field (not to mention a big bat from the left side). 

He'll need to be all of that to help propel the Jays to another level this season.

Jose Berrios

2023 just HAS to be better than 2022 for Berrios, doesn't it? Doesn't it? After signing a seven-year, $130M extension with the Jays in the 2021-22 offseason, Berrios went out for his first full year as a member of the rotation, and simply put up the worst season of his career. One of the worst of any starter in the majors in 2022, in fact. 

He gave up crazy hard contact all season (rated in the 11th percentile when it came to giving up hard contact, and just the 13th percentile in surrendering average exit velocity, per Baseball Savant), and his 5.23 ERA was among the worst of any full-time starter in the bigs. 

If he can just get back to being a solid No. 3 starter (which would be No. 4 on Toronto, behind Chris Bassitt), which is really what he's been throughout his career (4.24 lifetime ERA), then the Jays' rotation can be one of the best in the league. 

Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports