GDB 1.0: Toronto Blue Jays look to prove doubters wrong as Opening Day, series against Rays arrive

Photo credit:Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
12 days ago
The time has come. Opening day has finally arrived.
And just like every year, everybody starts the season with a fresh slate. It’s a new opportunity for so many to make names for themselves, prove the doubters wrong, and help their respective clubs to a potential winning season and shot at the World Series.
For the Blue Jays, there are many players who fit these bills. In the “make a name for themselves” list, you could include the likes of Wes Parsons, Nate Pearson, and Mitch White, all of whom have made the opening day roster out of the bullpen. Thanks to various injuries to Erik Swanson, Jordan Romano, and Alek Manoah, these three will be looked to in big moments early on this season, offering the opportunity to help weather similar storms the Jays faced in 2023.
Then there are players like Ernie Clement, who will look to show that his excellent Spring Training wasn’t just a fluke, Davis Schneider, who will look to show that he’s much more than just an anomaly down the stretch run of last season, and power-lefty Daniel Vogelbach, who will play an important role as a designated or pinch hitter.
In the “prove the doubters wrong” category, well, you could include just about anybody. Pick your poison. Daulton Varsho, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alejandro Kirk, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a healthy Alek Manoah who could be the biggest of the bunch, as well as Jose Berrios.
After a tough first season in Toronto at the plate, Varsho is coming off a Spring Training where he changed up his swing and raked at the plate. Guerrero Jr. is also coming off a tough offensive year, during which his OPS fell to .788, the second-lowest mark of his career. He will look to regain form, and the Jays need him to.
Kirk struggled for much of last season after missing most of Spring Training due to the birth of his child. It seemed to put him behind the eight ball and he never got close to regaining the form he had as an All-Star in 2022. This year, much like Varsho some changes at the plate have seen him rake, posting a 1.074 OPS.
Then there’s Manoah, who will start the season on the IL. His 2023 season has been well-documented, and the start to this season has been nothing but rocky. He made one appearance in Spring Training, hurling one and ⅔ innings against the Tigers where he allowed four earned runs, issued one walk and hit four of the 11 batters faced. Yikes. Right shoulder soreness was about as much as we learned about what’s kept him out of the lineup since, but when he returns, the Jays will need him.
Lastly, Jose Berrios got the short end of the stick to end the 2023 season, getting pulled from game two of the Wild Card round against the Twins after throwing three good innings. Everybody understands the decision was a team one and not indicative of Berrios’ performance, but he will look to bounce back in a big way.
He gets the chance to do so early this season, as the Blue Jays’ opening day starter this afternoon as the Rays send out Zach Eflin.

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. EST. TV & Radio: Sportsnet.
Weather: N/A.
Odds via Betano:
Moneyline: TOR +118; TBR -139.
Spread: TOR +1.5 -182; TBR -1.5 +147.
Over/Under: o7.5 -105; u7.5 -115.
*Odds available at the time of writing. Odds subject to change.

Starting pitchers (2023 statistics):

Zach EflinTBR31168177.23.503.02863.011.029.421.22
José BerríosTOR321112189.23.654.51873.991.198.732.47


  1. G Springer (R) RF
  2. V Guerrero Jr. (R) 1B
  3. B Bichette (R) SS
  4. J Turner (R) DH
  5. D Varsho (L) LF
  6. A Kirk (R) C
  7. K Kiermaier (L) CF
  8. I Kiner-Falefa (R) 3B
  9. C Biggio (L) 2B
  1. Y Díaz (R) 1B
  2. B Lowe (L) 2B
  3. R Arozarena (R) LF
  4. H Ramírez (R) DH
  5. I Paredes (R) 3B
  6. R Palacios (L) RF
  7. J Siri (R) CF
  8. J Caballero (R) SS
  9. R Pinto (R) C

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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.


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