Improved Changeup Stands Out For Blue Jays' Patrick Murphy
While Nate Pearson was showing a mid- to upper-90s fastball and two above-average or better secondary offerings on one of the Phillies' back fields on Wednesday, another Blue Jays righthander was showing similar stuff a couple of fields over.
Patrick Murphy, the Blue Jays' No. 17 prospect coming into the season, put together an eye-opening appearance against a group of Double-A and Triple-A Phillies minor leaguers. He sat 95-96 mph for 4.2 innings and touched 97-98 mph throughout his start. The curveball that has long been a key part of Murphy’s repertoire was there as well.
Murphy has been seen in the past as a likely reliever because of his lack of a decent changeup. Over the second half of the season last year, Murphy began to find some feel and confidence in a changeup after settling on a new grip. That improvement has carried over to this spring. The last two of his eight strikeouts (among only 14 outs) came on his changeup, meaning he finished off strikeouts with all three of his pitches.
With Murphy’s blazing fastball and a curveball that he can both backdoor to hitters and use to attack hitters in the zone, Murphy only needs a solid-average changeup to keep hitters off balance. On Wednesday, his changeup was even better than that at times, as he showed plenty of deception and generated swings and misses.
“My changeup has gotten a lot better,” Murphy said. “Today was a good day (having) all three pitches.”
Murphy said it wasn’t that long ago that he would have never considered throwing a two-strike changeup to finish off a hitter, but a lot of work has gotten him from the point where he threw the change because he now believes in the pitch. It’s not normally a swing-and-miss pitch, but if it’s good enough to surprise hitters sitting fastball, it can be an effective pitch.
Murphy’s other key focus is simply staying healthy. He had Tommy John surgery in the past, thoracic outlet surgery (although it was later discovered he didn’t have TOS) and ulnar transposition surgery.
The 22-year-old righthander did throw 146.2 innings last season and was added to the Blue Jays' 40-man roster in the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He’ll likely head to Double-A New Hampshire this season, where he’ll have a chance to show he’s not far away from being able to help the Blue Jays in the rotation.