Blue Jays: Could Nate Pearson force the front office’s hand?
After absolutely dominating in his second Spring Training appearance, Nate Pearson may give the Blue Jays no choice but to consider breaking camp with him.
The Blue Jays’ top prospect entered Spring Training a few weeks back with the understanding that his chance of breaking camp with the team on Opening Day was all but decided, and he’d be starting the year in Triple-A.
It’s not because Nate Pearson isn’t ready for the challenge of the big leagues, it’s that he only has 123.1 professional innings on his resume so far, after losing most of the 2018 season to a broken arm. It’s been fairly widely understood that he would start the year in Buffalo regardless of how he performed this spring, however, he’s dominating at a rate that might force the Blue Jays to change their mind.
In all seriousness, if Pearson continues to make big league hitters look foolish as he has, how can the Blue Jays justify leaving him behind? His innings count is one reason, the need to add him to the 40-man roster would be another, and the fact that the Blue Jays have plenty of veteran options for their starting rotation is yet another factor that plays into things. However, at some point, there may be no other choice.
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So far, Pearson has thrown three perfect innings over his two appearances. He struck out the side in a one inning session early in the week, and returned for two perfect innings on Sunday, striking out another three batters. For those counting, that’s now six strikeouts against nine batters, with a .000 batting average.
That’s obviously an extremely small sample size, but the 23 year old has displayed his triple-digit fastball, a nasty slider piece, a solid change-up, and even has worked in his curveball as well, adding a fourth pitch to his repertoire. So far, batters have looked completely lost against him in Florida, and he has the kind of stuff to keep that trend going.
He’s not going to finish the spring with a 0.00 ERA (or will he?), but if he shows this level of potential, it will be awfully hard for the Blue Jays to justify sending him back to Triple-A even with all of the other variables at play. You could make a decent argument that they’ll be okay without him to start the year, especially with the presence of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Matt Shoemaker, and a number of options for the fifth starter’s spot, however, you always hope to see the team take their best players with them when the regular season begins.
There are several good reasons why Pearson should start his year in Buffalo, for his own long-term good as well as the Blue Jays’ control of his contract. That said, if he keeps this up, there may be no other choice but to bring him north.