Jays Journal contributors will be authoring Toronto Blue Jays report cards based on how each player performed in 2020. In this edition, we take a look at Julian Merryweather
Expectations among the Toronto Blue Jays front office and fanbase will always be a bit high for Julian Merryweather. In case you don’t remember, he was the player the Blue Jays acquired for Josh Donaldson from the Cleveland Indians in his 2017 injury riddled campaign.
When the Jays acquired him, it was a puzzling move. In the 2017 minor league season, he made 25 starts with a 5.32 ERA with an opponent average of .278. It wasn’t a return that Blue Jays fans were expecting for their former MVP and while the trade came with much criticism, there could have been a reason why they made that specific move. Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins did come from Cleveland after all.
At the age of 29, Merryweather finally made it to the big leagues for the first time. He pitched in eight games (three starts) which consisted of 13 innings and an opponent average of .224.
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At his disposal, Merryweather has five pitches that he is capable of throwing. They are: Fastball (57.1%), changeup (17.6%), slider (15%), curveball (9.4%) and a sinker (0.9%).
His fastball, his primary pitch, averages 97 MPH. He used his changeup more against lefties while his slider primarily against righties. He threw only two sinkers, both against right-handed batters and it’s also his fastest pitch.
Despite all major league batters being able to hit fastballs, he seemed to be able to throw it effectively as he limited hitters to bat .188 against the offering. He didn’t allow a single hit off his changeup but opposing batters hit .571 off his slider. While he allowed batters to bat .333 off his curveball, he seemed to be on the wrong side of luck as the expected batting average (XBA) against that pitch is .190.
Merryweather fared much better at home than on the road. He posted a 1.23 ERA with an opponent average of .185 at home while on the road, he held a 7.94 ERA with a .273 opponent average.
Albeit in a short sample size, in August, he did really well but struggled once the calendar flipped to September.
It’s a little hard to assess Merryweather in such a small sample size of eight games and 13 innings pitched. Despite the small sample size, he put up some decent numbers and offered fans plenty to be encouraged about going forward.
We won’t really be able to give him a fair assessment of how he is until we see him in a full season. One thing for certain though is that Jays fans will never see the trade as a win for the franchise unless he somehow wins a Cy Young Award or becomes a dominant reliever.
While he was stretched out as a starter in the minor leagues, he seems ticketed for a relief role in his future due to the pitching depth the Jays have. Some see him as a closer due to his fastball being able to touch the high 90’s. It remains to be seen what role the Jays will use him in next season.