Blue Jays: Julian Merryweather finally takes a step in the right direction

DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Julian Merryweather #59 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait during photo day at Dunedin Stadium on February 22, 2019 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Julian Merryweather #59 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait during photo day at Dunedin Stadium on February 22, 2019 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Being traded for Josh Donaldson brought some unfair pressure on Julian Merryweather, and not being able to pitch much during the 2019 season didn’t help. Thankfully he’s finally back on the mound during Arizona Fall League play.

Some folks believe that the Blue Jays sold damaged goods to the Cleveland Indians when they traded Josh Donaldson before the August 30th deadline in 2018, but I don’t think it was a secret that Donaldson had been battling health problems. It also wasn’t a secret that the returning player, Julian Merryweather, had health issues of his own, having been under the knife for a Tommy John surgery prior to the trade.

However, if there either party was “damaged goods” it might have been Merryweather, who has really struggled to get healthy after his elbow surgery in March of last year. He ended up returning in June and was activated in High-A with the Dunedin Blue Jays, but unfortunately he was shut down after just one start that lasted 4.0 innings.

Thankfully, Merryweather is finally healthy enough to compete again, and the Blue Jays are using what’s left of the Arizona Fall League to get him a few valuable appearances ahead of the 2020 campaign. He made his debut on Tuesday evening, throwing a scoreless inning to provide some encouraging signs.

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The hope is that he’ll be able to make at least a couple more stints before the AFL season concludes, and they’ll likely be of the one inning variety, at least according to a tweet from TSN’s Scott Mitchell. That makes sense given the trouble that Merryweather has had getting healthy, and there’s no reason to push him at this late stage in the year.

The goal should be to have him completely healthy for the 2020 season, and where things go from there is anybody’s guess. He’ll likely need to pitch in A-ball again before moving up the organizational ladder, but at 28 years old he’s going to need to prove his value sooner than later as well. He still has a potentially electric arm that can push triple digits, and if he can stay healthy and put it to good use then hopefully he can get his career back on track.

According to a tweet from mlb.com’s Keegan Matheson, he sat around 95 miles per hour during his first outing, which is an encouraging sign. It would have been surprising to see him completely let loose during his AFL debut, For now, he’ll need to focus on repeating a delivery that he hasn’t been able to use consistently in 18 or 19 months, and it could be a while before he feels completely comfortable out there.

Next. Proof is in the postseason pudding. dark

That said, it’s encouraging to see him on the mound again, even if he is the oldest player in the AFL at the moment. That hardly matters, as the only thing more important than the reps he’s getting now is the fact that he’s healthy enough to do it.

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