Mitch White is a 28-year-old right-handed pitcher. He came to us in trade from the Dodgers on August 2nd last year. We sent Moises Brito and Nick Frasso to LA for him and Alex De Jesus. I was a fan of Frasso, so I wasn’t thrilled with the trade. He is a 24-year-old who hasn’t pitched above A yet. De Jesus turns 21 in March, he’s a long way from the majors as well.
White pitched in a couple of games in 2020, a few more games in 2021, and then pitched in 15 games, 10 starts with the Dodgers before the trade, with a 3.70 ERA. With the Dodgers, batters hit .237/.304/.372 against him.
Then, with the Jays, batters hit .321/.374/.484 against him. I don’t know why the difference. It could just be sample size
FanGraphs had an interview with him just after the trade, and he talked about a new grip on his slider he had come up with with the help of Dodger pitching coach Connor McGuinness. Gotta like anyone with Guinness in his name. Part of what he said:
“This is anecdotal — I don’t necessarily know all the numbers — but my new one has been more effective than my old one. And I’d say the harder I throw it, the better it is. We talk a lot about having a threshold… like [Clayton] Kershaw. He’d be pissed if he threw a slider 86-87 [mph], whereas you knew he was going to have a good day when it was 88-89. That’s because it’s closer to his heater, and it’s so late. It’s going to carry its line, then bite. The amount of movement isn’t as important as few more miles of velocity.”
“The grip changed a lot. It’s called a soft spike — at least that’s what we started calling it — and the idea is… I mean, my fastball cuts a lot. My middle finger is very dominant, so my ball doesn’t get a lot of tail. Or then there’s a Kevin Gausman, who gets behind the ball really well and has that ride. So, the idea is to take the pointer finger out of the picture totally, because it’s not really being used. It’s kind of just there.
Repertoire-wise, White throws up to five pitches, though only three of them are noteworthy. The four-seam fastball, his primary offering, has about league-average velocity (93–95 mph) and is characterized by poor shape. He’s weirdly gotten a ton of outs with it this season despite the lack of movement, though whether that’s due to luck remains to be seen. The slider, his secondary offering, is genuinely great, featuring two-plane break and solid velocity for a breaking ball (84–86 mph). Opposing hitters agree; when swinging at it, they’ve whiffed 33.8% of the time so far. White will sometimes remind us of his low-80s curveball, but he often lacks proper feel for the pitch.
It seems like White and Yusei Kikuchi are in a battle for the fifth starter spot, but White has come to camp with ‘right shoulder impingment’ and he’s only doing long toss early this spring. He would have to ramp up pretty quickly to win the job. I doubt he’ll get there, but if things don’t go well for Kikuchi, White could take over before the end of April. Presuming, of course, that shoulder impingement isn’t code for something worse.
White is out of options, but the shoulder issue may give the Jays an out to send him to Buffalo on a rehab assignment. White is under team control for a while, he isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2025 and free agency isn’t until 2028.
Streamer figures White to get into 42 games, make 8 starts, with a 4.38 ERA in 77 innings. it does seem somewhat optimistic after what we saw last year. But he’s smart. He has enough pitches that work. He and Pete Walker should be able to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. I don’t see why he shouldn’t be able to be a league-average fifth starter.
If the over/under for White’s innings is 77 I’d take the
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