Nate Pearson once again a victim to the business side of baseball

Pearson's latest triple-A option isn't personal, it's just business.
Colorado Rockies v Toronto Blue Jays
Colorado Rockies v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Nate Pearson has been a very polarizing player for the Blue Jays organization. Despite being the former top prospect from 2020-2021, Pearson hasn't been able to perform at the big-league level; in large part due to his injuries. Pearson has been lights out in 2024, yet to allow a run after 6.1 IP and six appearances. So why did the Blue Jays option him back to Buffalo if he's had such a hot start?

It's not personal, it's simply business.

There's no doubt that Pearson has looked locked in this year. To complement his spotless ERA, he has struck out nine batters over 6.1 IP, accounting for a very strong 12.79 K/9. His slider has looked nasty, already accumulating 2 RV and his fastball is averaging 97.6 MPH, in the 94th percentile. It's no wonder why some Jays fans may be confused at Pearson being the one optioned, as the former No. 1 is finally starting to perform at the big league level.

It's first important to acknowledge where the Blue Jays stand as a team at this moment. Despite a shaky start, the Blue Jays are in a position to compete- the front office is convinced so, as well as the players. Along with a solid lineup and rotation, a reliable bullpen is critically important to a team's success. A team looking to compete must have solid arms that you can depend on when in a jam.

The Jays' bullpen is arguably one of the strongest in the league- exactly why Pearson received the boot. The Blue Jays would love to take a flyer on their former top prospect but need to consider the rest of the team. Along with Pearson, the Blue Jays once again opted to DFA Mitch White, who has struggled ever since joining the Jays in 2022. Their hands were pretty much tied when it came time to who cut for Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson's return.

The bullpen is just too strong to justify giving Pearson the chance he desires (or perhaps deserves). Yimi Garcia and Chad Green, both veterans, have looked incredibly strong to start the year; especially Garcia, who has already recorded two saves as the interim closer.

Genesis Cabrera and Tim Mayza have both had difficult starts to the season, disappointingly, but it also makes sense to retain them. Both pitchers are coming off of very strong seasons last year with the Jays and offer the only left-handed depth in the bullpen. It can be expected they'll bounce back soon.

That leaves two more pitchers: Trevor Richards and Bowden Francis. Both pitchers have had questionable starts to the season, but too, have their arguments to stay north of the border. Richards, firstly, like the other veterans, does not have any minor league options left. If the Jays wanted to demote Richards, they would have to DFA him - and that wouldn't be wise. With Romano and Swanson currently back in the bullpen, Richards can assume a lower-leverage, inning-eater role. He'd be ideal for this role because of his experience as a starter, not to mention fair upside with his elite-grade changeup.

That leaves Francis. After about 11 innings, he has undoubtedly struggled. With an 11.81 ERA and 5.06 BB/9, Francis hasn't been what the Blue Jays hoped, despite an impressive Spring Training performance. It might seem logical for Francis to take time to develop more in the minors, but once again- not. Unlike Pearson, Francis offers the option of being in a starting role. He won't be expected to pitch more than 3 innings, and when used in tandem with newly acquired Yariel Rodriguez, the duo can create competitive starts while Alek Manoah remains injured. Pearson couldn't assume the 'tandem role' as it isn't ideal for him to pitch more than two innings per outing, largely due to his injury risk.

Although it's disappointing to see Pearson optioned, it's what's best for the team. Should he perform well in Buffalo, he will receive the big league opportunities he deserves. Until then, we can only hope he stays healthy and continues to pitch well.