Blue Jays: When will Nate Pearson earn a promotion, and who does he replace?
By Edward Eng
Nate Pearson has been a prized pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization for the past six years. He is a flame-thrower armed with some nasty wipeout pitches that has made him well-equipped to be a successful major league pitcher for a long time. However, he had encountered many injury issues over the past few years, so frequently that people were wondering if this had stalled his progress from ever becoming a valuable player in the MLB.
Fast forward now to 2023, Pearson appears to be healthy and fresh as ever to start the season. With the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons, he has been off to a torrid start, pitching to a 2.16 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, with 16 strikeouts and only two earned runs and one save over 8.1 innings. He has been consistently hitting close to triple digits with his fourseam fastball, and has his nasty slider and curveball working harmoniously with it, too. More impressive is that he had only faced 35 batters to date, so basically he was striking out almost 50% of the batters he faced.
With Pearson all pumped up and being on top of his game currently, this would be the perfect time to bring him back to the big leagues to provide a jolt to the Blue Jays bullpen. As good as the Jays have been with their 12-9 start, one of their main weaknesses thus far had been pitching. Collectively, they have a team ERA close to five, and the bullpen especially has had ups and downs over the first 21 games of the season. If Pearson could bring his momentum and effective power stuff with him up to the big club, it will help provide the Jays’ pen with much needed hard-throwing stuff, along with stability and reliability.
For candidates on who he can replace, Trevor Richards was an early candidate to get the nod, until he has shown recently to be much more reliable the past few outings, including a two-inning, three-strikeout game against the Tampa Bay Rays and a clean inning, two-strikeout game against the New York Yankees. The next potential candidate is the currently struggling Anthony Bass. He may be making the headlines recently more than expected, but the distraction isn’t enough to cover his recent poor outings, as he had surrendered at least an earned run in four of his past five appearances, leading to his 7.36 ERA and 2.05 WHIP for the year. He has shown in the past to be a very effective pitcher, as just last year, after being acquired from the Miami Marlins, he pitched to a 1.75 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP over 25.2 innings with the Jays, helping them reach the postseason by solidifying their bullpen depth. However, it is quite clear that he isn’t performing up to his standards thus far, so a conditioning stint to get him back up to speed while giving a chance to Pearson seems to be the most plausible choice.
It is worth noting that neither Richards or Bass have any minor league options remaining, so either of them would need to be designated for assignment rather than demoted to the minors.
Nevertheless, the Jays should fully take advantage of getting Pearson up sooner than later, while he’s piping hot right now, so that we can potentially witness his dominance at the major league level. In doing so, one could only hope that this would finally be his breakout year to prove that he belongs.