While the Toronto Blue Jays finished strong last season with a 91-71 record and one win shy of a playoff berth/tiebreaker, a few of the club’s top pitching prospects did not fair so well across multiple levels of the minor leagues in 2021.
Some had their seasons cut short due to injury and some just struggled to find consistency, let’s take a look at some of the Blue Jays pitching prospects who will be looking to bounce back in 2022 after struggling or being sidelined last year.
Poised to break Opening Day with the Blue Jays last year, former first-round pick Nate Pearson started the season on the injured list and the 2021 campaign for the right-hander would turn into one of the toughest seasons he experienced as a professional baseball player.
He would make one start with the Jays against Houston in early May, struggling with his command and failing to get out of the second inning, before being returned back to the minor leagues. Down in AAA, Pearson continued to struggle as a starter and spent some more time on the IL, with the pitcher eventually being diagnosed with a sports hernia injury. With the Bisons, Pearson pitched to a 4.40 ERA through 12 outings (six starts) and amassed a 12.9 K/9 and a 3.8 BB/9 through 30.2 innings. Pearson would find himself with the Blue Jays to end the season in a relief capacity and did finish strong, a 2.84 ERA through 12.2 innings, but still struggled with the command to the tune of seven walks through 11 games.
Pearson has the frame to be a starter and it is no secret that his stuff has swing and miss capabilities, evident by the high K/9 values over his time in the minor leagues. The current Steamer projection for Pearson has him starting 15 games through 33 appearances and earning a 4.33 ERA through 99.0 innings.
The end goal for the Florida product this year is for him to take the mound as a starter rather than a relief pitcher but he will need to stay healthy, as the club could have him being the year in AAA to get some innings under his belt. They could also move him to the bullpen to finish out the season but it will all depend on how well he starts, whether he is healthy, and if he can reel in the command that impacted his game last year.