The Blue Jays’ starting pitching depth will be put to the test early on, it seems.
Mark Shapiro appeared on The Fan590 with Scott MacArthur on Tuesday morning and he mentioned that it’s “hard to see” Nate Pearson being ready for when the team travels north opens up the season in Dunedin come April. As of right now, Shapiro said, Ross Stripling will be the one to replace Pearson in the Blue Jays’ starting rotation.
Pearson suffered a groin injury during his first spring outing last week and it’ll take a few weeks for him to get back on the mound. Given the fact opening day is just over three weeks away, Pearson won’t have adequate time to get himself ramped up, and, thus, the Blue Jays are going to take things slow with their young fireballer.
Though Stripling had an ugly season in 2020, posting a 5.84 ERA between the L.A. Dodgers and the Blue Jays, he has been a successful starting pitcher in the past. In 2018, Stripling was key as the Dodgers navigated injuries to both Clayton Kershaw and Hyun Jin Ryu. He posted a 3.02 ERA that season as a starter, swingman type, and earned himself an All-Star nod.
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Though we all want to see Pearson pitch, it’s clearly best for the Blue Jays to take things slow here. Pearson has dealt with an array of random injuries in the past and rushing him to get up to speed would obviously be a big risk to his long-term health. There’s more than enough pitching depth to compensate for the time being.
As of right now, it seems Toronto’s rotation will consist of Ryu, Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Tanner Roark, and Stripling. Behind them are names like Anthony Kay, Thomas Hatch, and T.J. Zeuch who will be pushing for opportunities if any of those veterans falter.