With the recent not-so-shocking news of Alek Manoah's demotion to the minor leagues, the Toronto Blue Jays now have a hole in their starting rotation. The right-hander had made it through 13 starts this year but just was not able to find any sort of sustained success. All told, he is 1-7 with a 6.36 ERA and 6.53 FIP on the season.
In his place, the Blue Jays promoted 27-year-old Bowden Francis, who had been functioning as a starter for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons but is likely only going to serve as a bulk reliever or perhaps an opener in the big leagues. To give you an idea of his workload this year, he has made five starts and pitched only 18 innings, so he is best utilized in short stints.
One popular option amongst fans is former starting pitcher Nate Pearson, who is currently on the active roster as a relief pitcher, making the transition back to starter. It should be established early on that the odds of such a move happening are slim to none.
Pearson, 26, is a former top prospect for the Jays and has had some well-documented struggles with his health over the years. He made it to the big leagues back in 2020 but made a combined 17 appearances since then leading up into the current campaign. Now, he's back in action and has been thriving in a high-leverage relief role, which is where he should stay.
The plan prior to the 2023 season was for the big righty to make a transition to short stint relief outings in an effort to maximize his triple-digit fastball and perhaps minimize the wear and tear his arm was experiencing while functioning as a traditional starter. After a dominant 12-game stint in the Dominican Winter League and eight strong outings in Triple-A (all as a reliever), Pearson was promoted to the big leagues and has not looked back for a second.
To have the flamethrower go from missing out on the Opening Day roster to integral piece of the Blue Jays' bullpen has been nice to see. Pearson has been so, so good in his relief outings for the Jays, why mess with a good thing and risk him hurting himself once again?
Through 14 outings and 18 innings of work in The Show, Pearson is 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA and 167 ERA+, striking out 21 batters and walking just five. The fact that he's not walking many batters while still maintaining the high heat on his fastball is highly encouraging. Leave the man where he is and let him continue to thrive.