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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Nate Pearson

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

I took a weekend off, figuring I won’t be able to take four days off in a row for a bit. So I’m not going to finish the 40-man roster before the season starts.

Nate Pearson won’t start the season on the active roster. He’s been out with an ‘illness’ for a few days. I don’t see anything telling us if the illness is Covid or if it is something else. And we don’t know if he’ll start the season on the IL or if he will start the season in Buffalo. Nate hasn’t pitched since March 26th.

Until the illness, it looked very likely that he would make the team working out of the bullpen. He had one lousy spring outing, but the others were good. He worked 4.1 innings, allowing 3 hits, 3 earned, 1 home run, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. I thought he would be handy working as a 2 to 3 inning reliever. Especially early, while starters aren’t stretched out to go 6 or 7 innings. With the two extra roster spots, I thought he would get April to show if he should stay.

Early in spring, the team told us he would be stretched out to be a starter. But with the late addition of Yusei Kikuchi, it looked like his best chance of making the Jay was as a reliever. Few teams make it through a season using just five starts.

Pearson is 25 now. He has two option years left, but it really would be nice if he could establish himself as a major leaguer this year.

Back before the 2020 season (when we last had a top prospects list), Pearson was #1 on our list. Matt said:

Obviously everything starts with his fastball, which will touch above 100 MPH in shorter stints. He sits more upper 90s in longer outings touching the odd triple digit, but as I noted in August, what’s far more impressive to me is the way he not only holds his velo, but builds it and ramps it up later in outings.

As it that weren’t enough, he’s multiple very good secondary weapons. He’s got two breaking balls, though to me it’s really more the same breaking ball thrown at two speeds, the slider in the upper 80s, the curve much slower. Either way, they’re effective and get swings and misses.

The cherry on top was it turns out he has a pretty good change-up too. I wasn’t noticing many and didn’t think he was using it much, until later in the season some MiLB.tv broadcasts that show velocity on the screen. He was throwing a bunch of pitches around 90, mostly to lefties, that otherwise looked like fastballs. It doesn’t tumble of have late fade like great change-ups usually do, but it looks like a fastball to hitters it’ll get plenty of empty swings. At a minimum, as a third pitch to keep opposite hitters honest, it’s more than fine.

Now he has aged out of our prospect list, and, with injuries, inconsistent play, and team management not being sure if he should be a starter or reliever, he doesn’t look like a #1 prospect anymore. And, as I’ve often said, after the age of 25, a player isn’t a prospect anymore. Nate still hasn’t proven himself in the MLB, but by now, he’s not going to grow much as a player. He just has to show if he can put it all together in the majors.

PECOTA figures Pearson to pitch in 30 games, making 19 starts, totalling 99 innings with a 4.37 ERA.

Poll

If the over/under on Pearson’s MLB innings is 99 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Over
    (57 votes)
  • 76%
    Under
    (185 votes)
242 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Most of Pearson’s 2022 innings will be

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    As a starter with the Jays.
    (22 votes)
  • 66%
    As a reliever with the Jays
    (170 votes)
  • 16%
    In the minors
    (41 votes)
  • 8%
    With another team (he’ll be traded)
    (21 votes)
254 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Thinking of Pearson

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    I still think he will have a good MLB career.
    (151 votes)
  • 37%
    I think that Pearson will be another example of how there is no such thing as a pitching prospect.
    (90 votes)
241 votes total Vote Now