Blue Jays' Pearson wants more work, better first innings in 2021

MLB insider Jon Paul Morosi joins Good Show to discuss the challenge of the Blue Jays acquiring high-end pitching talent, and why Nate Pearson becomes the most important player on the field, in the hopes of his immense talent emerging next season.

Blue-chip pitching prospect Nate Pearson had an up-and-down rookie season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pearson showed glimpses of what he’s capable of, but the 6-foot-6, 250-pound righty said Wednesday during an appearance on Good Show that two things he hopes to change in 2021 are his number of innings pitched and his success at the start of games.

Pearson debuted with a five-inning, two-hit, no-run performance against the Nationals in July before allowing 12 runs in 11.1 innings of work across three starts in August.

The 24-year-old, drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round in 2017, missed more than a month with a flexor strain in his right elbow but managed to return for one appearance prior to the post-season.

Pearson pitched two innings, impressively striking out five batters, during Toronto’s brief playoff appearance against the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It didn’t go our way, but still to have that experience and to have that success in the post-season is always a good thing to end on,” Pearson said.

Pearson pitched more than 100 total innings in 2019 – splitting his time between triple-A Buffalo, double-A New Hampshire and high-A Dunedin – and was hoping to build on that work rate in 2020.

However, between the COVID-shortened season and his injury setback, Pearson only pitched 20 total innings with the Blue Jays during his rookie campaign.

“I’m sure (the team’s) running the numbers, analytically whatever, I’m sure the Jays will have some sort of plan in place for me but as far as that goes I think they may just start letting me get innings,” Pearson said. “That’s the main thing that matters now. It’s not really an innings limit. It’s kind of just letting me get as many innings as I can so I think they’ll probably just let me go at the start (of next season) and we’ll try to get as many innings as we can and then just see where we’re at halfway through the season, or three-fourths through the season and then make a call from there whether they want to put me in a different role to slow my innings down or whatever.

“The main thing next year is just staying healthy and logging innings as a starter.”

Pearson allowed 12 earned runs in his five regular-season starts and seven of those runs came in first innings.

The Odessa, Fla., native is also making that a point of emphasis in the off-season.

“That’s a big goal of mine to limit first-inning damage because ever since I was in high school if I was able to get through the first inning as a starter I’d lock it in after that,” Pearson added. “That’s why deeper in the game I’d get real loose and get real comfortable and the (velocity) starts climbing up a little bit and that’s when I kind of have to learn how to take that from pitch No. 1.

“I’m a guy that if you don’t get me early you won’t get me later, and so I have to focus on that first inning and getting a clean three-up, three-down and then going from there.”

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