We still don’t know when he’ll be back, but we now know what the plan appears to be for Nate Pearson.
Ross Atkins appeared on Sportsnet 590’s Leadoff show on Wednesday morning and told Scott MacArthur that the big righty will “more than likely” pitch out of the bullpen when he returns from injury. Atkins added that there likely isn’t enough time to get Pearson stretched out to start, so throwing out of the ‘pen is the most realistic course of action.
— Sportsnet 590 The FAN (@FAN590) September 9, 2020
This isn’t at all surprising. Even back when Pearson was originally put on the Injured List a few weeks ago, there was speculation that he wouldn’t be starting when he returned. Buck Martinez and Dan Shulman speculated on the broadcast the day Pearson was placed on the IL that the best path forward for him would be to pitch as a reliever so that he could rebuild his confidence after a rough start to his big-league career.
Pearson has made four starts for the Blue Jays. His debut went very well as he dominated the Washington Nationals over five scoreless frames but he struggled in three starts after that. The big issue for Pearson was command, as he looked as though he was trying to aim the ball into the zone rather than just throwing his best stuff.
All told, Pearson has a 6.61 ERA over 16 1/3 innings with 14 strikeouts and 12 walks.
If Pearson calms down his command, he could become yet another valuable weapon out of Toronto’s already-stacked bullpen. The Jays have young starters in Tom Hatch, Anthony Kay, Ryan Borucki, and Julian Merryweather thriving in the bullpen, so Pearson would give them another huge arm who can pitch multiple innings.
Obviously, long-term, the goal is still for Pearson to be a starter. But, right now, given the circumstances, having him figure things out in the ‘pen seems like the right move.