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The Toronto Blue Jays are set to activate left-handed starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu from the injured list for a start on Tuesday against the first-place Baltimore Orioles. The plan moving forward after that game, according to manager John Schneider (via Ben Nicholson-Smith), is to use a six-man rotation. 

Along with Ryu, the rest of the rotation will be Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, Chris Bassitt, Alek Manoah and Yusei Kikuchi

The Blue Jays enter Friday ranking sixth in the majors in rotation ERA and 10th in WAR, figures that do not illustrate some of the tumultuous times with the group these last couple years. Specifically with three pitchers who have been frontline starters before: 

  • Ryu is on the final year of a four-year, $80 million deal. He was terrible in six starts before needing Tommy John surgery last season. Obviously, he hasn't yet taken an MLB start this season. 
  • Berríos was arguably the worst regular starting pitcher in baseball last season, pitching to a 5.23 ERA while leading the AL in hits and earned runs allowed.
  • Manoah was so bad earlier this season that he was demoted to rookie ball to work things out. He currently has -1.1 WAR and a 6.10 ERA. 

Gausman is an ace while Bassitt is a quality mid-rotation guy and Kikuchi has thrown great this season for a five (or six!). How the other three throw down the stretch will go a long way in determining just how well the Blue Jays are set up for the playoffs and possibly a deep October run. 

  • Ryu finished second in NL Cy Young voting in 2019 and third in AL Cy Young voting in 2020, so we've seen him throw like an ace. He's 36 years old and coming off major surgery, but it's possible he performs well down the stretch. He was outstanding in his minor-league rehab starts with a 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 16 strikeouts against one walk in 18 innings. Last time out, he threw 85 pitches, so there won't be workload concerns when he returns on Tuesday. 
  • Berríos has had a nice bounce-back season: 8-7 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 117 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings. He's inconsistent and many numbers indicate he can't be counted on as a frontline starter, but the Jays might not need him to be one. 
  • Manoah finished third in AL Cy Young voting last season, posting a 2.24 ERA in 31 starts at age 24. Since his return, he's had one brutal start sandwiched by a great one and a mediocre one. There are some good and some bad signs, but there's certainly hope. 

The possibility of everyone but Gausman putting sub-par numbers on the board the rest of the way remains, but there's also a chance the Jays sport one of the best -- if not the best -- rotations in baseball in August and September (hell, they've already been a top-third rotation through all these issues). Even leaving out the wild card that is Manoah, the best versions of Gausman, Ryu, Berríos, Bassitt and Kikuchi is pretty imposing as a fivesome. And if Manoah starts throwing like it's 2022, watch out. 

The Blue Jays enter Friday's action holding the final AL playoff spot. They are also 5 1/2 games out in the AL East and that's workable in the tough and crowded division. The talented-yet-unpredictable rotation will be a big factor in determining whether or not this is a special season or not here in the coming months.