Two Blue Jays headed for a breakout in May
By Dave Litman
These two Blue Jays are poised for a May breakout.
The Toronto Blue Jays had as fine a start to the season as one would have hoped. Heading into the month of May with a record of 18-10, most of the key members of the team put up some nice numbers throughout April, helping to lead the charge.
But for the success to continue, the Jays will need some others to chip in significantly in the coming month. With that in mind, we take a look at two players who should be set to "breakout" in May.
The Jays' 2022 All-Star catcher, Kirk had himself a slow start with the bat in 2023, plodding along with a .226 average and a .702 OPS through April 26th. It was generally an underwhelming start.
But then came his last two games in April, in which he went 5-for-9 with a homer and two runs scored. Good enough to beef up his overall numbers to a .274 avg., and .805 OPS heading into May.
And then we look a little deeper: Kirk is walking at a career-best rate, 19%—nearly double last year's rate, and in the 98th percentile in all of baseball. Like last year, he has more walks than strikeouts (15 to 12). This has allowed his on-base percentage to stay in the high .300s through much of April, and it now sits at .419. That kind of plate discipline is bound to lead to more games like the last two. From where we stand here, it sounds like Captain Kirk is ready to beam himself up into a breakout month of May.
Let's be honest, the Blue Jays have been waiting for the Nate Pearson "breakout" for about four years now. After being dogged by injuries throughout the first part of his career, the early returns on this young season are that Pearson just might be ready to bust free and finally realize that immense potential.
His performance in Winter League last fall and this spring at Triple-A, now that he's settled into a role as a high-leverage reliever, showed us just what could be in store from the former first-round pick.
20.1 innings with a 0.89 ERA over that stretch, with 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings. In 8.1 innings at Buffalo this April, he posted a 16:5 K/BB ratio. Just keep those walks under control, and he could be finding himself in some high-leverage spots with the Jays before long. There's certainly one reliever at least that Jays fans would love to see him supplant, and the sooner the better.
And if Pearson's first appearance since being recalled to Toronto a week ago is any indication, good things are in store.
A Nate Pearson breakout in May would be a bonus for the Jays. And it's been a long time coming.