A Look at Nate Pearson and what he needs to do in order to have success at the Major League level

Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Prasad
1 month ago
When Chad Green was placed on the Injured List over the weekend, Nate Pearson was called back up from the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons to join the team. The hard-throwing right-hander had been optioned earlier this week in order to make room when Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson returned from injury. 
The former top prospect has had an uphill battle of a career, more so than a rollercoaster, as many usually tie it. He’s now into his eighth season of professional baseball and the grind towards establishment is still in full effect. Pearson bounced from a trial in the starting role to the bullpen where the club saw him as a closer; that quickly changed and slotted him to a late-reliever and occasional set-up guy. The fact of the matter is, it’s not entirely where he falls within the course of the game but how he chooses to execute against the load of batters he’s facing. Pearson’s success depends almost entirely on approach, pitching usage, and command.
When Pearson is summoned from the bullpen, the main concern is pitchability.  The estimate for most evaluators is that bases-on-balls will most definitely be present in his outing and working counts from behind that will essentially make him work harder on the back end. Let’s start with managing the count and establishing the zone. Pearson will find more success in working from an advantage in his counts; first-pitch strikes are the best friends he hasn’t met yet. In 2023, he showed a 53.8% first-pitch strike percentage. He also had a 28% first-pitch swing percentage, which means 72% of hitters weren’t pulling the trigger. This would account for a guaranteed 0-1 count to start. 
Pearson establishing the zone and leading the count in his favour ultimately puts him in a spot to utilize his out-pitch and off-speed. He’s equipped with three pitch options, with his four-seam fastball being his most used pitch, followed by a slider and curveball. His fastball reaches up to 101 mph and usually consistently touches between 97- 99 mph. If used and placed strategically, this pitch has the blow-by effect. 
The heater owned the most consistent pitch-thrown stat as well as the second-highest put-away percentage. He usually works this pitch as a borderline strike. When trying to spot up, his command goes off the rails, and his ability to locate decreases. The heater should lead each fresh count and work low and away in the zone. It should also be used later in the at-bat towards 2-2 or 3-2 counts after flopping between breaking-balls. Pearson needs to read more into his hitters and understand the weaknesses in and out of the zone. His issue thankfully are not walks, although he walked 18 and struck out 43 last year, however, 18 walks in 42.2 innings is not ideal. 
His slider is his out-pitch, which was thrown 34.2% of the time in 2023; this was responsible for the second-most strikeouts within his pitch options and holds the high put-away percentage at 23.9%. His slider moves from top to bottom with 7.1 inches of horizontal break and 35.7 inches of vertical break. Pearson maintains great control of this pitch and can throw it for a strike. In order for this to work, Pearson must keep it away and low, out of the wheelhouse. The slider was responsible for three of the seven home runs in 2023 and accounted for 11 of the 43 strikeouts. His hook is his least used pitch, however it should be utilized more 14 times in 42.2 innings. This would be a good option to force a ground ball and a good fish option to conceal the slider a bit longer. 
Overall, commanding the zone would be the top priority for Pearson’s success. In addition, working on establishing counts on the front end will allow room for trial and error later on. Working from behind is not something Pearson will fair-well in, as his command is shot when trying to battle back.

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