What do they have in big Nate?
Blue Jays fans have been spoiled with much anticipated MLB debuts over the last few seasons, and they added another top prospect to the list in 2020.
Nate Pearson finally took a big league mound, and at times he flashed the raw ability that we’ve all been reading about for the last few years. He hit triple digits on the radar gun with ease, threw some nasty breaking balls, and looked ready to join Hyun Jin Ryu at the top of the Jays’ rotation for the next several years.
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how the big league career of Pearson has begun, at least not yet. He had his 2020 campaign disrupted by a flexor strain injury, limiting him to just five regular season appearances, including four starts. They came with mixed results in a small sample size, and I really don’t think it’s that helpful to read into his numbers much at all. If I could sum it up, he looked much better than the numbers would indicate, but it’s clear there is still work to be done before he’s ready to be a MLB ace.
I have no doubt that he’ll be in the rotation plans for 2021, as he should be, but it’s really hard to project what the Blue Jays might get from the 24-year-old next season. The most important thing will be keeping him healthy, and I’m sure there’s already a draft of a pitching regimen for next year sitting somewhere on a coach’s and/or trainer’s laptop. It’s likely fair to assume that Pearson will be on some sort of innings limit in 2020, but only time will tell how much they’ll hold him back.
In an ideal world, Pearson would have shown himself ready to take on the #2 starter’s role for 2021 with his work this season. He may be still perform to that level when the time comes, but if the Blue Jays are serious about competing again, they likely need to add at least one more high-arm.