Blue Jays' best stretch of 2023 being driven by offseason acquisitions

The Blue Jays are rolling right now and the players driving their success are guys who came aboard recently.

The Toronto Blue Jays have won four consecutive series — and 10 of their past 13 games — against a quartet of teams who all fancy themselves playoff contenders.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say they're in the midst of their best stretch of the season, and they have their shrewd offseason shopping to thank for their recent success.

A few existing core players like Kevin Gausman and Bo Bichette have thrived lately, but many of the most important performances are coming from guys the team brought in to fill in the gaps around its top dogs.

That starts with Brandon Belt, who has been amassing more than "MVP" chants right now.

The Blue Jays are getting their money's worth from their offseason acquisitions, including Brandon Belt (left).  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
The Blue Jays are getting their money's worth from their offseason acquisitions, including Brandon Belt (left). (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Since this series-winning streak began, the first baseman has hit .273/.429/.545, leading the team with a 174 wRC+. Some of those numbers can be chalked up to a bloated BABIP (.467), but he's also walked at an incredible rate during this stretch (21.1%) and produced five extra-base hits in his last five games.

On Thursday, he delivered a crucial hit against elite left-handed starter Framber Valdez that brought the game-winning run across the plate.

That's significant because he entered the game with just 11 plate appearances and one hit against lefties all year. The Blue Jays had been sheltering him against southpaws, but were rewarded for giving him a chance against Valdez.

Daulton Varsho has also been impressing. His 140 wRC+ in the last 13 games is stellar, and his minuscule strikeout rate (10.2%) during that time period is encouraging for the outfielder. Even in a small sample that's a notable number for a player who's traditionally struggled with punchouts in his career.

Along with his offensive output, he continues to make strong contributions in the field. With Kevin Kiermaier missing some time recently, he's patrolled centre field more than usual and has swallowed up flyballs with ease.


While Kiermaier has been limited to 29 plate appearances over the last 13 games, he has still made his presence felt, too. He's hit .208/.345/.542 in those trips to the dish — good for a 142 wRC+ — and like Belt he recently made a play that proved absolutely critical in a close Blue Jays win.

In the ninth inning of Wednesday's game, the Blue Jays were protecting a one-run lead with a man on second base when Kiermaier got a fantastic jump to rob Yordan Alvarez of a hit and protect Toronto's advantage.

Less than a week earlier, he made his best catch as a Blue Jay.

On the pitching side, the team's biggest offseason acquisitions have both performed well in recent weeks as well. Since the beginning of this series-winning streak, Chris Bassitt leads the Blue Jays in innings pitched (19.2).

Although one ugly outing has him sporting a less-than-stellar ERA (4.12), he's allowed just two runs over his last two starts — including a scoreless outing with his wife in labour.

Toronto's most-used reliever during its 10-3 run is Erik Swanson, who has pitched 7.2 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and just three baserunners allowed. Swanson has continually worked in tight spots, producing six holds — four more than any other Blue Jay.

Make no mistake, this team is still going to sink or swim according to the performance of its top stars. The Blue Jays need Bichette, George Springer, Matt Chapman and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to rake. Gausman's presence at the top of MLB pitching leaderboards is essential. Jordan Romano's work as the closer will tilt the outcome of plenty of games from here on out.

That said, the Blue Jays are getting the best versions of the guys they brought in to supplement their top-of-the-roster talent right now. Outside of Alek Manoah's journey to the minor leagues, that has Toronto looking like the team it was designed to be entering 2023.