The day is finally here. Nate Pearson, Toronto’s No. 1 prospect and one of baseball’s most exciting young arms, is set to make his Major League debut.
Pearson’s presence will be a big boost to the Blue Jays’ rotation, which has looked very solid after one trip through the order. It’s important to temper expectations for rookies, no matter how much talent they have, but Pearson certainly boasts the stuff to hit the ground running as a top-of-the-rotation arm.
The first time through, Toronto’s rotation tossed 22 innings, allowing just six earned runs on 18 hits and nine walks while collecting 19 strikeouts. Now, imagine Hyun Jin Ryu bouncing back to form after a rusty first start and adding Pearson, who immediately steps in like an ace, to the mix.
Dare to dream!
Anyways, now that Pearson is up, the Jays have a normal five-man rotation. He’ll kick off Toronto’s second go through the rotation, with Ryu and Matt Shoemaker scheduled to follow after him and Trent Thornton and Tanner Roark still pencilled in as the fourth and fifth starters. That’s a pretty formidable group.
Another benefit of adding Pearson to the rotation is that it gives Charlie Montoyo more options out of the bullpen. Thomas Hatch and Anthony Kay, who combined to put up a strong piggyback start against the Rays on Sunday, can now be freed up to pitch out of the bullpen.
That’s some much-needed added depth given the fact Ken Giles is injured and we have no idea when he’ll be ready to return.
Giles was placed on the Injured List due to a strained right forearm. He’s currently being “shut down” and the team is seeking a second opinion on his injury. The fact it’s a forearm injury and not an elbow injury seems like it should be a positive sign.
In Giles’ absence, veteran Anthony Bass will fill in as the closer. Jordan Romano and Rafael Dolis will continue to get high-leverage set-up appearances in the later innings and Wilmer Font is now back in the mix for key middle-relief innings.
The Blue Jays have a couple of arms in Sam Giviglio and Shun Yamaguchi who can pitch longer middle-relief or mop-up innings, but Montoyo will surely want to get his young arms some meaningful action this summer.
We could still see Thomas Hatch and Anthony Kay used in a piggyback situation in order to give the starters an extra day of rest, or we could see them eventually used in more high-leverage situations. Jacob Waguespack had a strong debut on Tuesday, tossing two clean innings in relief of Roark, which suggests that he might be in line for some more opportunities. And then there’s also Ryan Borucki, who came out of the ‘pen on Monday throwing fire in his 2020 debut.
Eventually, the Jays will need to trim their active roster down from 30 to 28 and then to 26. But, for now, Montoyo has plenty of quality arms to get into the mix. It’ll be interesting to see how he uses them.