Julian Merryweather could be the swing and miss piece the Blue Jays have been looking for if he can stay healthy, and if they have a roster spot for him at the big league level.
If healthy. That’s the key word that has eluded right-hander throughout his entire professional baseball career. We know the story when it comes to Merryweather and his time with the Blue Jays. He was traded for a former American League MVP at the 2018 August trade deadline as a player to be named later. Merryweather was on the injured list at the time, and he did not make an appearance during the 2018 season due to Tommy John Surgery.
After a few minor league appearances in 2019, we would see Merryweather appear during everyone’s favourite 2020 COVID shortened season. He didn’t fare badly, getting himself into eight games giving up eight runs over 15 innings pitched. We saw encouraging signs with the fastball and changeup, as per baseball savant, as teams hit .188 off his fastball and .000 off his changeup. The MPH discrepancy between the two pitches was 16.
In 2021 Merryweather teased us like Homer and Marge Simpson teased the Bart and Lisa about going to Disney World when they were just going to see the dentist. Maybe it was Lionel Hutts? Bottom line, he was phenomenal in the opening series against the Yankees. He then made a familiar trip to the injured list. Merryweather would only get into 13 games pitching 13 innings. He would have the exact same WHIP (Walk and hits per innings pitched) in 2021 as he did in 2020. The opponents average on the fastball crept up to .259 and to .200 on the changeup.
Here we are in 2022. We had moderate expectations for Merryweather for this season. I think a lot of Blue Jays fans would have been just fine to see him stay healthy. Merryweather has thrown his fastball 52% of the time during his stay with the Blue Jays this season. Teams are hitting .474 on that pitch while they are hitting .172 on the slider and nothing on his changeup and curveball. There could be a ton of reasons for this, and it could be his release point on this fastball. Maybe his pitch pattern needed to be adjusted?
Merryweather would go back to the IL with an oblique injury in mid June. He would make a rehab appearance for the GCL league affiliate and then head to Buffalo. Since arriving in Buffalo he’s put up phenomenal numbers. Over seven games he’s had 8.0 innings pitched, 13 strikeouts and two hits giving up no runs with a .077 opponent’s average. The fastball and changeup appear to be in top form.
There will be a few issues for Merryweather to get back on the roster. First problem is as of September 1st there are only 28 spots on the roster. The Jays will need to figure out who goes down if left-hander Tim Mayza returns before the end of the month. All signs point to Trevor Richards, and then Richards could return to the big club at the beginning of the month. That means someone else (a pitcher or position player) would have to fall way off or be injured for a door to open for Merryweather.
The other issues is Merryweather’s endurance. Can he pitch in back-to-back games without jeopardizing himself or his team? On the other side of the coin, if Merryweather is healthy and the fastball and changeup are mixing well, he could be super valuable building the bridge to Jordan Romano. If Merryweather can fire it back and get some swing and miss that could go a long way for the Blue Jays.
Unfortunately for Julian , he maybe playing at Sahlen Field a little longer then he hopes.