Nate Pearson underwent surgery recently to clear up a sports hernia, an issue that led to the two groin injuries that ultimately derailed a good chunk of his season in 2021.
Pearson got injured early in spring training and didn’t make an appearance in an actual game until May 3 when he allowed one earned run over three-and-two-thirds pitching for the Triple-A Bisons. He was then called up to the Blue Jays, who were dealing with injuries to their starting rotation, and he got shelled by the Astros for three earned runs over two-and-one-third innings.
After that outing, Pearson went back to Buffalo and had a bit of a mixed bag of results. He put together two very encouraging starts with Buffalo, one that features five shutout innings and another than resulted in six innings of two-run ball, but he wound up on the Injured List yet again with a groin injury.
When Pearson finally returned in August, he was used exclusively as a reliever. He made six appearances with the Bisons and then got called up to the Blue Jays in September to join a bullpen that needed some reinforcements. As a reliever in Toronto, Pearson tosses 12 2/3 innings over 11 outings, scattering four earned runs on 10 hits while walking seven and striking out 20.
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The walk numbers were still a little bit high, but those strikeouts were certainly encouraging. Pearson’s best showing came in a late-season loss to the Yankees, in which he struck out four over two innings of work.
As Arden Zwelling reports, Pearson’s recovery timetable is four weeks and then he can start throwing again, so the expectation is that he’ll be on track for a normal spring training, assuming a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is hammered out and that happens on time.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Blue Jays use Pearson in 2022. He’s 25 years old now and he only has about 185 innings across his five-year professional career, with his career-high in innings of 101 2/3 coming back in 2019.
It’s probably naive to expect Pearson to be a full-time starter who can log 160 innings at this point, but the Blue Jays also likely don’t want to limit their top pitching prospect to being exclusively a bullpen arm. I imagine we’ll see Pearson get stretched out and pitch bulk innings behind an opener with the possibility of him moving into the bullpen later in the season as his innings pile up.
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