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Blue Jays RHP Nate Pearson Shows He's Healthy And Hungry

Heading into his third pro season, Nate Pearson’s career ERA (1.66) is exceptional. His strikeout rate (11.2 K/9) is what would be expected for a towering righthander with one of the fastest fastballs in the game.

But there’s another number that stands out, and it’s the one that Pearson hopes changes dramatically in 2019.


In his first two pro seasons, Pearson has logged only 21.2 innings. Last season, he logged just five outs before a comebacker shattered his left forearm and sidelined him until the Arizona Fall League.

“It’s not the best feeling, not being able to compete,” Pearson said. “It’s just staying healthy and getting over 100 innings under my belt and making the start every fifth day.”

Instead of climbing from high Class A to Double-A or beyond last season, Pearson found himself spending the entire summer rehabbing and recovering. One perk was because he’s from Florida, he got to spend the time with his family. He did make it back to throw 20 innings in the Arizona Fall League before a busy offseason in which he continued to refine and improve his stuff.

“I’m addicted to my craft," Pearson said. "I’m always trying to find ways to get better. It’s good to be out here getting ready for the season.”

Pearson is healthy again and this spring, he has shown that he’s ready to make up for lost time. The Blue Jays' 2017 first-round pick has regularly touched 100 mph and beyond this spring and has sat at 97-99 mph in recent outings. But even more impressively, the 22-year-old has shown that he has feel to go with stuff.

In a recent start against Phillies’ minor leaguers, Pearson struggled to throw his slider for strikes early in the game, as it usually started out over the middle of the plate before diving out of the strike zone early enough that hitters could recognize it and take the pitch for a ball.

Pearson kept at it and quickly found a better aim point for the slider. Once he started it inside on righthanded hitters, it became the bat-missing strikeout pitch he was looking for. Pearson also mixed in a slower, bigger 76-78 mph curveball that is hard for hitters to adjust to after they get a steady diet of upper-90s fastballs and hard sliders. Pearson’s 88-89 mph changeup also fooled hitters.

“My stuff has gotten better. I’m able to command my offspeed pitches better. My fastball command has gotten a lot better. I’m not walking as many guys,” Pearson said.

With a near top-of-the-scale fastball and a slider and changeup that both project as potentially plus pitches, Pearson has the makings of a future front-of-the-rotation starter. Now, he just has to stay healthy.

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