Blue Jays: Looking at the internal options for the last rotation spot next season

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 03: Nate Pearson #24 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch during a MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on September 3, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 03: Nate Pearson #24 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch during a MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on September 3, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Blue Jays
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 09: Nate Pearson #24 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 09, 2021 in New York City. The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 6-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

This offseason, the Blue Jays made some pretty big headlines in regards to their starting rotation. With Hyun Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah already slated to begin the year in the top five, the front office decided to extend Jose Berrios to a long-term contract while also bringing in Kevin Gausman on a five-year deal. Cy Young winner Robbie Ray would sign with the Seattle Mariners just before the owners locked out the players and the Blue Jays now head into Spring Training with four of the five starting rotation spots locked up for the time being.

There is a possibility that the club could add another starter before the season gets underway and once a new CBA is in place, whether it be by trade or free agency, but the Jays could also decide to have the last spot be filled by an internal option.

The Blue Jays have a few candidates who should find themselves in the mix, such as former top prospect Nate Pearson, Ross StriplingTom Hatch, Anthony Kay, Zach Logue, and Bowden Francis, with both Logue and Francis being added to the 40-man roster just before the Rule 5 Draft deadline this winter.

Nate Pearson

Pearson is one name that sticks out from the crowd but is coming off a 2021 campaign he most likely wants to forget. While he has dominated through most of his rise through the Blue Jays farm system, Pearson has experienced his fair share of injury troubles and last season would be another setback for the right-hander. Not only did he struggle at both the Major and AAA levels to begin the year, but Pearson also missed time on the injured list with a sports hernia injury that was definitely impacting his performance on the mound. He would eventually rejoin the big league squad towards the end of the season but as a member of the relief corps, producing a 4.20 ERA through 12 outings.

Given his past injury concerns and rough transition to the big league level over the past two seasons, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Blue Jays keep him in the bullpen to at least begin the 2021 campaign.

On the other hand, if he has a strong Spring Training, they could also decide to have him start the year in the rotation and then move to a bullpen role later on in the year if they are trying to limit innings.

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