Blue Jays 2024 Season Preview: Relief pitchers

How will the Jays bullpen be projected to fare in 2024?

Jun 12, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Toronto Blue Jays pitchers walk to the bullpen
Jun 12, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitchers walk to the bullpen / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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Nate Pearson

What started as a promising, breakthrough year turned quickly into an extremely frustrating and disappointing season for Nate Pearson in 2023. After entering the season with a clean bill of health and appearing stronger than ever, Pearson finally got his promotion up from the minors in late April. Once he joined the Jays, he was absolutely lights out and on fire. He strung together a series of strong appearances up until mid-June where he compiled an impressive 4-0 record with a 1.96 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched in his first 17 games. With a huge sigh of relief from Jays’ nation, it seemed at last, the Pearson that everyone was waiting for has finally arrived and was here to stay.

However, the pitching inconsistencies that has plagued him throughout his career unexpectedly reared its ugly head once again in the following weeks. Once again, he had trouble getting hitters out, along with a loss of control and command of his pitches. Consequently, he was sent back down to the minors and was eventually left off the postseason roster as well. In total, Pearson posted a 5-2 record with a 4.85 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, giving up 23 earned runs including 7 home runs, 18 walks and 43 strikeouts in 42.2 innings pitched.

With the hard-throwing Hicks no longer with the team, Pearson’s flaming pitch arsenal represents the best ideal replacement for Hicks for the Jays in the upcoming year. However, Pearson will need to prove in spring training that he has made the right adjustments in resolving his inconsistency issues for good. Steamer projections appear to be on his side as his ERA will fall drastically to 3.99, his K/9 strikeout rate will go up from 9.07 to a dominant 10.22, and his LOB% will go up from 67.8% to 74.3%. Those numbers better hold true for Pearson, as with time and his career rapidly ticking away, this could be his last chance to impress and stick with the team once and for all.