Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

The Reds remain at GABP this weekend for a three game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Reds last faced the Jays in May 2022, losing two of three in Toronto. The Jays last played at GABP in 2014, and among the two teams’ lineups from that day, only two players remain in the Major Leagues in 2023. Those two players are Joey Votto and Johnny Cueto.

The Blue Jays currently sit in third place in the AL East at 67-55, a record that would be leading the NL Central. Still, they sit just barely inside the playoffs, holding the third wild card spot as we stand today.


The Blue Jays will likely enter the weekend seeing the return of superstar shortstop Bo Bichette, who has been on the IL since the beginning of August with a knee injury. Bichette’s return would be a welcome sight for a Toronto team that’s seen trade deadline acquisition Paul DeJong go just 3 for 44 in Bichette’s absence, posting a -77 (not a typo) wRC+ in that time. DeJong’s poor performance makes it not entirely out of the question that the Jays will cut ties and designate him for assignment with Bichette’s return, and pay the buyout on his 2024 and 2025 team options.

Here is a look at Toronto’s offense:

It’s clear that Toronto desperately needs a Bichette return. While they do have some strong hitters in the lineup, their offense is extremely top-heavy and having their top hitter by wRC+ (excluding those with small samples) would certainly lengthen their lineup. Bichette’s presence is especially critical for Toronto on Saturday against LHP Brandon Williamson, as Bichette’s 185 wRC+ against LHP is far and away the best on their team, while he ranks second on the team (behind Brandon Belt) against RHP.


While the Reds will miss two very strong starting pitchers in Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi, the entirety of the Toronto rotation is still quite good. Hyun-Jin Ryu is the lone question mark among the group, and that’s primarily because he’s only thrown 14 innings this year. He has a long history of success, though he hasn’t pitched much since 2021. Here are the matchups for the weekend:


The Reds will see Jose Berrios, who’s noticeably worse on the road, Friday. The Reds have not yet announced their starter, though the assumption is that Brett Kennedy will likely get the ball after Luke Weaver’s DFA.


Chris Bassitt will face off against Brandon Williamson on Saturday, in arguably the most even matchup of the series. Like Berrios, Bassitt is a pitcher that has been significantly better at home than on the road this season, and also like Berrios, Bassitt tends to struggle against LHH. Look for Henry Ramos, Joey Votto, Elly De La Cruz, TJ Friedl, and Will Benson to be locked into the lineup both days to attempt to exploit the weakness of the opposing pitchers.


As previously mentioned, Sunday’s starter Ryu has only thrown 14 innings this season due to injury. The Reds will see Hunter Greene return from an injury of his own, a much needed boost to the rotation.

Toronto’s bullpen, anchored by closer Jordan Romano, ranks fourth in the Majors in ERA, sixth in FIP, and second in SIERA. They have the fourth highest strikeout rate and third best walk rate, so they’re essentially everything you want to see in a great bullpen. If they have one flaw, it’s home runs, which they’re allowing at the ninth highest rate in the Majors.


This weekend’s series is arguably the toughest on the Reds’ remaining schedule. They’ll face some tough teams over the next couple weeks in the Angels, Diamondbacks, Giants, Cubs, and Mariners, before finishing the season with somewhat of a softer schedule. While it seems they may be catching some of these teams at a good time, they could be catching the Blue Jays at a bit of a bad time if Bichette returns as expected. Still, the Reds will look to take the series from them and provide some momentum heading into a 10 game west coast road trip.

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Kyle Berger

Kyle Berger is a lifelong Reds fan who has lived in the Cincinnati area for his entire life. Kyle has always been interested in the analytics side of baseball, and recently graduated from Miami University with a degree in Business Analytics. You can follow him on Twitter @KB_48, where most of his Tweets are about the Reds or baseball in general.