Consistency and health are keys for a Mitch White comeback

First three games showcase the potential peaks and valleys of Blue Jays reliever.
Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch March 31 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch March 31 against the Tampa Bay Rays. / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

At Mitch White's first spring training a year after being drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, one Dodgers executive remarked that White's stuff looked worthy of a number one overall pick.

That's worth pointing out for two reasons. One, because the Dodgers executive's name will be familiar to Blue Jays fans. It was Alex Anthopoulos, the Canadian and former Toronto general manager that built the 2015 division-winning Jays team. And two, because Anthopoulos wasn't alone, as thought highly of White. In 2016,'s prospect analysis thought White had a ceiling as a mid-rotation starter. Of course, that analysis came with the stipulation that White avoids "nagging injuries and do a better job of repeating his delivery to maintain quality and command with his pitches."

So far this season, we've seen what could be with Mitch White. Prior to Wednesday’s extra-inning loss to Seattle, he had appeared in two games and pitched 7.1 innings with a 0.95 WHIP. His first appearance was the March 31 victory in Tampa Bay, in which White threw three scoreless innings. He only allowed a walk on his way to picking up his first win as a Blue Jay.

White's second appearance was Saturday in New York, where the 29-year-old right-hander threw 4.1 innings after Kevin Gausman couldn't make it out of the second inning. White was able to soak up some innings in the one-run loss to the Yankees, giving the Jays offense time to get going to make it close. After two scoreless innings, the Yankees did eventually get to White. White threw an 88-mile-per-hour slider on the inside corner of the plate that Anthony Rizzo hit for a two-run home run that barely stayed inside the right field foul pole. White had gotten Rizzo to ground out into a double play in the previous plate appearance.

White allowed three runs in total (the other an inherited runner Tim Mayza allowed to score). He struck out two and faced only 17 batters, an outing that most teams would take when playing at Yankee Stadium. He faced another tough assignment Wednesday.

White's third appearance of the year started when he took over from Mayza in the top of the 10th inning with two runners on and only one out. The Mariners had already taken the lead and two-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger winner Julio Rodriguez was coming to the plate. White struck him out, but then allowed RBI hits to Ty France and Mitch Haniger before striking out Jorge Polanco to end the inning.

The outings against the Yankees and Mariners showed White is capable of being a reliable arm. He's shown promise before, such as finishing last year strong while at Triple-A Buffalo after being designated for assignment in July. White was not effective for the Jays, posting a 7.11 ERA in 12.2 innings of work. White dealt with injuries for most of 2023 as well.

The Blue Jays traded for White in 2022 by giving up two prospects to address a pitching need. The hope was White could replicate the value Ross Stripling once offered the Blue Jays: a reliable, multi-inning reliever or a spot starter. While with LA, White posted a 3.58 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 105.2 innings. That success didn't transfer, as White's ERA was 7.74 in 43 innings with Toronto in 2022. But this past offseason, White was added back to the 40-man roster and showed improved velocity in the spring.

If White can be consistently reliable, he can be a useful bullpen option this year. Given the uncertainty of Bowden Francis and Alek Manoah in the rotation, he could even see a handful of spot starts as well if he can keep up the solid string of performances.