The Toronto Blue Jays should be keeping an eye on Nate Pearson. Pearson will undoubtedly be at the top of the list when they need someone. But how much longer is that going to take? Through six games in Triple-A, the right-hander had 14 strikeouts, four hits, two earned runs, and four walks in 6 1/3 innings. Pearson has come a long way since he took to the hill in July 2020 for his major league debut. He offered a glimmer of hope for the future; the stuff was there. When the Blue Jays faced the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card series, the rookie looked sharper than he did in his debut. He got five of six hitters to strike out while hitting triple-digits in two innings of relief.
Pearson is finding his game at the right time, but returning to the majors is a challenging path.
Nate Pearson averaged 98.3 m.p.h. at AAA last night, topping out at 100.6 m.p.h. … he generated four swinging strikes on 14 pitches.
So far at AAA: 6G, 6.1 innings, 4H, 2 ER, 4BB, 14Ks
Becoming an interesting option for when Jays need relief.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) April 15, 2023
Blue Jays Nate Pearson’s Path
Anyone who can throw 101 mph on the radar is worth paying attention to. As mentioned, he only struck out 14 hitters in 6 1/3 innings at Triple-A Buffalo. Pearson is doing what he can to for the Blue Jays to hands. It’s not just his fastball, but his breaking ball has impressed him. He has to force the Blue Jays’ hands because they have so much depth with their bullpen. Toronto likes what they have in guys like Zach Pop, who is coming into his own.
Starter Vs. Multi-Innings
It wasn’t likely that Pearson would crack the starting rotation in 2023. Adding Chris Bassitt deepens Toronto’s starting five, and Yusei Kikuchi has again found confidence in his game. However, Pearson should stay in the starting role. His career splits in 2020-2021 saw him compile 2.4 HR/9, 8.2 BB/9, and 6.8 K/9, with a 7.42 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. Whereas in a relief role, Pearson has stronger numbers. He has a 1.3 HR/9, 5.0 BB/9, and 13.8 K/9, with a 2.51 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. These stats prove Pearson will be in the bullpen over being a starting pitcher only if he gets serious major league innings this year.
Pearson has small sample sizes as a reliever. Although, his 2.51 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings are excellent for someone who made 11 relief appearances in 2021. In those appearances, he threw 20 pitches or more, an output that could be ideal from Pearson in 2023. If the Blue Jays need to, Pearson can be Ross Stripling 2.0 in a way that can be used for multi-innings of works. Of course, if that’s impossible, there’s the chance of coming out of the bullpen. For someone who can throw hard, that’s something ideal for Toronto.
There’s a chance he starts in the bullpen. Pearson’s health suggests his talents are best to put in late-innings as a high-leverage reliever. That opens some exciting possibilities for Pearson. Of course, if an injury occurs, he could have a role there. But, if someone like Trevor Richards continues to struggle, Pearson could take over. Richards should be on a short leash, considering his 5.17 ERA is present with 41 earned runs, 1.3 HR/9, and 4.9 BB/9. At 6’6″ and 255 pounds, Pearson is an excellent fit for a flamethrowing relief role. In addition, his arsenal plays this role too. The upside here is tempting, but Toronto likely wants to wait to bottle up Pearson. As the season progresses, he will probably be stretched out for more work in Buffalo. Pearson will be on the Blue Jays roster at some point; it’s just a matter of when.
Nate Pearson Conclusion
Placing Pearson in a mid-high leverage for at least two innings is most likely the best fit. It’s ideal for him because he was the swing and miss stuff for that role. As well, it’s something the Blue Jays will need for the bullpen down the road. Ideally, Toronto could wait on Mitch White before taking a chance on Pearson. But, if Pearson continues to do what he’s doing, that will make the Blue Jays deicison making more challening.
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