‘It’s great to help the team win’: Mitch White on his beginning with the Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mitch White throws to a Cleveland Guardians batter in first inning American League baseball action in Toronto on Saturday, August 13, 2022. (Jon Blacker/CP)

After being acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays at this year’s trade deadline in a package that sent Nick Frasso and Moises Brito to the Los Angeles Dodgers, right-handed pitcher Mitch White is fitting in nicely — both with the team, and the city.

“I love it,” White told Sportsnet’s Blake Murphy on Blue Jays Talk about the move to Toronto. “Obviously the team and stuff has been great, everyone’s been awesome.”

White suited up for his first game in a Blue Jays uniform on Aug. 6 against the Minnesota Twins, just four days after being traded to the Blue Jays. Playing in Salt Lake City, Utah, for a triple-A team at the time, White described a “whirlwind” few days of traveling to Minnesota to get settled in with his new team.

That journey was similarly made by former Dodgers teammate Ross Stripling, traded to the Blue Jays in August of 2020 and to whom White has been compared.

“I’m happy to take those comparisons,” White laughed, noting that he and Stripling took on similar roles while playing for the Dodgers — both are right-handed and have a versatile skillset that lends them flexibility up and down the roster.

Amid speculation about where White will fit within the Jays’ pitching lineup, he indicated he was comfortable in a variety of roles with the team, particularly as he eases into the Blue Jays’ system.

“Pete, my first bullpen, just kind of getting comfortable with him, he said ‘don’t treat this like a new start, treat this as a continuation of what you’ve been doing.'” White told Murphy. “Just stick to what I’ve been doing and as he gets more comfortable with me and vice versa, we can kind of work from there.”

White mentioned that he and Pete Walker, Blue Jays pitching coach, have collaborated to implement different sequencing and pitch selection in the time since he joined the Blue Jays. “As time goes on, and I spend more time here, we’ll definitely add some new, fun stuff.”

For White, building trust with the pitching staff is an important step to allow him the leeway to change up his pitch-design, which he added he does often, but he also recognizes when change is a necessary.

“That was definitely a necessity,” White said about the change to his slider following a particularly tough close last May. He worked with Dodger’s pitching coach Connor McGuinness to develop a slider that was better suited to his strengths. “Having multiple pitches, multiple options always helps in terms of being able to spin or manipulate the ball.”

Throughout his first two starts with the Blue Jays, White was focused on working closely with Walker to improve his delivery — something Walker has discussed before.

“He’s still developing,” the pitching coach told Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling last week. “He’s someone we’ll continue to get to know.”

Long-term, White admitted that he would like an opportunity to prove himself as a starter for the Blue Jays, but is comfortable playing whichever role gives the team the best chance at success.

“It’s great to help the team win,” White said. “But, gun to my head, I’d say yeah, I’d prefer to start. I like being able to eat innings and cover innings for the pen and do that.”

As the Blue Jays fight to maintain their wildcard spot while suffering pitching woes, White may be given more opportunities to do just that.

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