The right-hander would make his season debut against the Houston Astros on May 9th after beginning the season on the injured list with a groin injury. He would record one of his worst professional outings, struggling with his command to the tune of five free passes and allowing three earned runs through just 2.1 innings of work, failing to record a strikeout. Pearson would be sent back down to AAA right after the Astros start but a separate shoulder injury and a diagnosis of a sports hernia being the cause for his groin injuries has kept the top prospect on the shelf for most of the campaign.
With the Bisons this season, Pearson has thrown to a 4.74 ERA with 11 walks, 36 strikeouts, and 13 earned runs through 24.2 innings pitched, crafting a 1.18 WHIP through six appearances (five starts).
Blue Jays top prospect Nate Pearson is starting to pitch again after being diagnosed with a sports hernia, with the right-hander being slotted as a relief pitcher to finish out the 2021 season.
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As of August 4th, it was reported that Nate Pearson threw a simulated game within the Blue Jays organization and as per Ben Nicholson-Smith is most likely going to throw in the Florida Complex League before rejoining the Bisons/Blue Jays roster. It also appears that the Odessa, Florida product will be moved into the bullpen for the remainder of the season, a role he is familiar with after suffering an injury during last season as well and returning for the tail end of the campaign as a middle relief pitcher.
The move to the bullpen makes sense for Pearson this season, as what would have been a great opportunity to secure a spot on the active roster out of spring training has been hampered by injuries and poor performance. While the speculation can be made that he was most likely pitching through these injuries, hence the poor outings, it is still a tough pill to swallow not to have Pearson and his 100mph fastball in the big leagues. The emergence of fellow pitching prospect Alek Manoah has picked up the slack of where Pearson was most likely going to slot into the rotation but it seems that the 6’6″ right-hander is not going to get another opportunity in the rotation until next season.
In the same breath, the Blue Jays could also use his arm in the bullpen to finish out the year, especially if he can pitch similar to how he did in the Wild Card series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Pearson would throw two innings in relief and would strike out five batters, absolutely dominating the Rays batting lineup before the Blue Jays would drop the game and the series.
Regardless of his role, a healthy Nate Pearson can make a big difference in the roster if he can find his groove and reel in the command issues that have emerged when he throws in the big leagues. The Blue Jays most likely need him to figure it out as a starter with the recent departure of fellow top prospect Simeon Woods-Richardson, but when healthy and pitching well, he can be an effective arm that should provide the Jays some firepower within the rotation.