Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Nate Pearson – Starter, Opener, or Reliever?

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 18: Nate Pearson #24 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 18, 2020 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 18: Nate Pearson #24 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 18, 2020 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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It seems over the last couple years that each time a blue chip prospect comes up to the majors, there is another one waiting to get the call. This past season the first to make the jump was former first round pick Nate Pearson.

Drafted in the first round of the 2017 MLB draft as compensation for the team losing Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays selected Nate Pearson.  Pearson quickly climbed through the system and really gained a lot of hype in 2019 when he played at three levels, threw more than 100 innings, and averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

In his 2019 season, Pearson was recorded as throwing 104 mph in a game and 105 mph in a side session.  To give you a comparison, the hardest pitch thrown in a major league game was by Aroldis Chapman at 105.8 mph; so to say you need to get excited would be an understatement.

In recent years, major league general managers have been accused of keeping players in the minor leagues to gain extra years of contract control of a player rather than keeping them down for development reasons.  It appeared that 2020 was going to be no different and Pearson would be the victim.  The big right-handed flame thrower was nothing short of outstanding in Spring Training, however COVID happened and the brakes on the season halted his momentum.

Once the season started up again, Pearson was initially left off the opening day active roster as he needed to be kept off the roster for five days to keep an additional year of control.  Pearson would not disappoint in his first major league game, as the 23-year old threw 75 pitches over five shutout innings that included five strikeouts.  Pearson would have one more good start before looking a little different over his next two appearances.

Over his first two starts of the year he threw 10 innings, and allowed three earned runs with 10 strikeouts to just four hits.  However, his next two starts he would pitch just 6.1 IP surrendering nine hits, seven walks, and nine runs with just four strikeouts.  The change in outcome appeared to be something more than a drop off in performance, and Pearson would land on the injured list for over a month with an elbow injury.

Fears started to loom among fans as the pitcher most believed would be the Ace of the rotation for the next decade was out with what could be a serious injury.  Thankfully for many cheering for the Blue Jays, Pearson came back for one last appearance in the regular season.  He would throw 1.2 innings allowing just one hit to two strikeouts. Pearson would also be used in the AL Wild Card round where he would pitch two near immaculate innings.  Pearson would face six batters, inducing one ground ball out to go with five strikeouts, seeing batters failing to catch up to his 100 mph fastball and flailing at his breaking balls.

So the question for next year is what do you do with the Big Nate?  Including playoffs, he only threw 20 innings on the season.  I put a poll out on twitter Saturday asking for your opinion and an overwhelming amount said to have him as a starting pitcher.

Does this mean you’d try and go minimum five innings every outing to start the year?  My thoughts would be to have him as an opener and go 2-3 innings to start the season and then continue to stretch him out. It would allow him to keep his inning down for the season, assuming he’s healthy all year, and to take extra precautions with a prized asset.

Next. Vladimir Gurerro Jr has a lot more. dark

What do you think should be the plan for Pearson next year? How excited are you to see him next year?

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