Mitch White's latest struggles in rehab outings suggest his Blue Jays tenure could be ending

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

To date, this year has been extremely unkind to Mitch White, who entered 2023 with hopes of competing with Yusei Kikuchi for the fifth spot in the rotation. This soon changed, due to a combination of a right shoulder impingement setting him back and Kikuchi looking more like the 2021 All-Star version of himself.

As a result, White was then projected to become the Blue Jays' sixth starter and long reliever before more misfortune struck. Due to right elbow inflammation connected to his right shoulder impingement, he began the season on the injured list and with no official timetable for his return.

Big trouble in little Buffalo

If recent developments are any indication however, you have to wonder if White should return at all for the Blue Jays. After completing a minor league rehab assignment in Dunedin he was moved to Triple-A Buffalo, where he has had his challenges.

White's most recent outing last Friday for the Bisons was particularly bad, as he allowed four hits, four walks and four runs in three innings. Overall, he has made three appearances for Buffalo, recording a 7.45 ERA and 2.07 WHIP in 9.2 combined innings.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider advised reporters that the 28-year-old will make another rehab appearance for the Bisons on Wednesday. The pitcher's rehab period is set to expire on May 26.

At that point a decision will have to be made regarding White, who was acquired in a trade with the Dodgers last August. The reality is he has struggled in general since he arrived from Los Angeles.

Night and day between Los Angeles and Toronto

In 10 games last season for the Blue Jays – which included eight starts – White went 0-5 and recorded a 7.74 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. Prior to his trade, he had a 1-2 record in 15 games – including 10 starts – for the Dodgers, with a 3.70 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.

Overall, White had decent enough numbers during his tenure in Los Angeles, after making his Major League debut in August 2020. During 38 overall appearances for the Dodgers, he went 3-5 and notched a 3.58 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

So, injuries aside, what else has happened to White since his arrival in Toronto? Part of the issue could be a decision from pitching coach Pete Walker.

Changing it up with the changeup

As per Mitch Bannon of FanNation, Walker urged White to mix in the changeup more. The thinking was this would be an excellent complement to his fastball/slider/curve mix.

As a result, the San Jose, California native increased the use of his changeup from one percent to 8.5 percent. He struggled to command the pitch though, finding the zone just 30 percent of the time for the poorest rate of any of his deliveries.

Despite the lack of success with the changeup, it was still believed it could be effective with some tweaking. As per Bannon, White came into camp this year working on a different variation of the pitch.

Using what is essentially the reverse of Max Scherezer's changeup grip, White says the new grip is more comfortable. How effective this will be as part of his pitching arsenal is unclear at this stage however, with everything being compromised by his continued rehab from injury.

Another factor to consider in White's poor production since arriving in Toronto, is just plain bad luck. As per Jays Journal editor Eric Treuden, last year he had a 3.76 FIP in his 43 innings for the Blue Jays, which suggests suspect defence resulted in him being unlucky.

Overall though, the 2016 second round draft pick still needs to start showing more positive results for the remainder of his rehab assignment with the Bisons. It doesn't matter how talented you are, if you can't produce on a consistent basis.