Five takeaways from Nate Pearson’s sensational big-league debut

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TORONTO – It was nothing surprising.

Reinforcement is what it was.

Nate Pearson Showed his high-level potential since his 28th-overall draft in 2017 with the pick the Toronto Blue Jays won when they left fans favorite Edwin Encarnacion walk like a free agent. So it was no surprise that he was able to go out and look dominant against the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals in his debut.

It was just five innings and 75 shots thanks to a hard limit of 80 balls that the Jays held the 6-foot-6 right-hander until Wednesday night, but he made the most of it and went from start to finish. with Max Scherzer in what is sure to be a memorable first start for the Odessa, Florida native.

“I knew it was going to be a good duel… it’s definitely something I’m going to go back to my beginnings and say that I was able to compete with Max Scherzer and I held on for five innings, ”Pearson said afterward. I know he went a bit longer, but it was always fun to be able to throw against him. ”

With his parents, sister and girlfriend watching from a nearby DC hotel, the pandemic atmosphere will always provide unique memories. But once Pearson took the mound as the White’s home team from the Blue Jays to Nationals Park early in the first inning, it was like any other rookie debut.

“I took it all in the first run,” said Pearson. “Looking around and just taking mental pictures of where I was, just thinking about the three long years that I went through, the injuries, all the adversity that I went through, to be able to overcome all of this for being here and I knew all my friends and family were watching from my home. It was just very special to me. ”

Here are five takeaways from Pearson’s big-league debut.

Go further, get stronger

It started to become a notable theme at the end of last season when the Jays finally took the reins of their prized prospect, allowing him to increase his pitching counts and deepen ball play.

In his relatively short minor league career of just 34 starts, Pearson threw more than 80 pitches just eight times.

Seven of those occasions occurred at the end of 2019, including his three Triple-A tune-ups.

With that, all kinds of evidence has come in that Pearson is in fact getting stronger and going stronger as the games go on, a very good sign for his ability to hit that rare ace cap.

“Yeah, high school,” Pearson said with a smile when asked when he first noticed this trend. “I’ve always been like that. Since high school, I remember going into fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh – you only play seven innings in high school – and when I was finishing matches and feeling my best stuff at the end of the game, that This is when I knew I had a special arm. I’m not sure exactly why it is happening this way. I get more adrenaline as the game progresses, so I want to finish. I want to be the last pitcher and I want to end on a high note. I don’t want to finish after giving up hits or anything. I want to go out on my terms. ”

It’s an ace thing and he has an ace mentality to accept it.

Pearson retired six times in a row and struck out three of the last four batters to end his night.

“I settle in throughout the game and you will see my speed increase as the game progresses because I settle more into my mechanics and feel more comfortable with the strike zone,” I learn the strike zone from the referee and me and [Danny] Jansen, or whoever catches it, we’re on the same page and we’re starting to groove, ”Pearson said.

Two elite fields

In the first three innings, Pearson relied on exactly what got him here: a devastating combination of fastball and slider.

To get his first nine outs, Pearson threw 32 fastballs and 16 sliders, which was the game plan the entire way.

“When we sat down and went through the scout report and the roster, there were a few guys who did well with the changes but had issues with the slider,” Pearson explained. “So we were like, ‘Let’s go with my dominant thing, the fastpitch slider,’ and we did it the first two times in order. ”

In the fourth frame, Pearson began to mix up his curve ball and change, with the national hitters swinging and missing on each one.

In total, Pearson had 14 swings and chess on his 75 throws – eight on the slider, four on his fastball, and one each on the lightly used change (three throws) and the hook (two throws) – for a top- average rate.

“A little bit of everything worked,” Pearson said. “The Fastball order was there at times when I needed it. I still wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but, man, my slider was on tonight and it was my big pitch. It got me out of a lot of jams and got big dams on it. ”

The example

After giving a double for Eric Thames to start the fourth inning, Pearson induced a Kurt Suzuki Groundout and a Starlin castro alignment to sit at the edge of the Thames grounding at the third.

That’s exactly what he did by dismantling the Nats third baseman Carter Kieboom, himself one of the top 20 prospects, with just three shots.

An 86.6 mph slider on the outer edge to hit one.

A quick 96.5 mph ball on the same outer edge knocked Kieboom over.

Now with a throw out of the inning, Pearson backed off and dialed a 98.5 mph fastball and spotted it at the bottom of the area in the corner, leaving Kieboom frozen for the K.

Pearson could be even more difficult for hitters to deal with if he could fully complement his repertoire, which is scary to think of.

The development of Curveball is essential.

“I think I threw [a curveball] to 77 [mph], which is perfect, ”Pearson said. “I want it to be just around 80mph because it separates my 97mph fastball at an 87mph slider at an 89mph shift then it drops to 77. If you got that 20mph difference h between your curveball and your fastball, it is very unlikely that they will be able to fix the problem and this puts them out of balance. ”

One chance every five days

Aces inspire confidence.

No matter how the team plays the previous four days, an ace gives a club a chance to win every five days.

At the start of his career, Pearson already has the feeling of his manager.

“This team is excited,” said Charlie Montoyo. “When he got out of the game, I said, ‘Hey, man, we have a chance to win every five days. That’s the first thing I said because he was really good. ”

That’s the biggest compliment you can give a young pitcher, even if it raises expectations even more.

Pearson’s pitch count on Wednesday was a product of both the pandemic – the majority of pitchers are limited early on due to a lack of actual preparation time – as well as the Jays being super-cautious with one of the keys to their long term. hope.

With a 245-pound framework that you think would be able to handle large workloads, Pearson won’t release games as easily in the future.

It will be interesting to see how the Jays, an organization run by a high performance department that values ​​rest and sticks to fairly strict height accounts even when arms are built, wield an arm as talented as Pearson’s. .

“I can really see myself being like Max Scherzer“Pearson said with another smile.” I saw him do the same thing today, go to his manager and ask him to go back there. It really turns me on and that’s exactly what I want to be.

“I wanted to do it today, but it’s definitely not the best way to do it when I was just starting out when I had a pitch count and everything. ”

Quiet Swagger

Like many of the perspectives the Jays have brought to the organization over the past two years, Pearson is an absolute joy to manage.

And not just because he’s always in happy mode to be here.

Pearson is an interesting interview – thoughtful, intelligent, and with the ability to add a little anecdotal humor.

There is an authenticity to it that has not wavered since it was written.

But it is also the quiet confidence that is undeniable.

Every time he has faced major league bats since February, that confidence grows.

“Let my business be here and I belong here,” Pearson said of what he’ll remember from his first start in MLB. “Just carry that confidence I had today to my next outing and going out in the years to come. ”

At 24 on August 20, Pearson’s speed is the first thing you notice.

But it’s the way he’s gone from pitcher to pitcher in three short years that is really exciting for those in the Jays organization.

“How cool and collected he is,” Montoyo said of his first impression. “He knows what he’s doing. He can throw his breaking throws behind in the count. You’re not only going to see a 2-1 fastball, he also has his breaking pitches. It is impressive for me for a young man. “



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