In all likelihood, Ross Stripling will take Nate Pearson’s spot in the rotation to open the season, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). Pearson is working his way back from a groin strain, but it doesn’t look as if he’ll be ready by opening day. The 6’6″, 250 pound flame-throwing righty has dealt with a number of nagging injuries in his young career, which may force the Jays to be particularly judicious with his timetable. He missed most of September and the last week of August in 2020 dealing with elbow soreness. In a mostly veteran rotation, however, the 25-year-old Pearson represents the Jays’ best chance at exceeding expectations in the rotation.
For Stripling’s part, the 31-year-old maxed out at 21 starts and 122 innings during his 4 1/2 year tenure with the Dodgers. He struggled to a 5.84 ERA/6.15 FIP in 49 1/3 innings split between the Dodgers and Blue Jays in 2020. The culprit of the decline could be his hook. The whiff rate on Stripling’s curveball cratered to 7.4 percent last year, down from 33.3 percent in 2019. Stripling leaned more heavily on his heater, a pitch that got lit up for 11 home runs and a .737 expected slugging percentage against. Before last season, however, he was a reliable swing man in Los Angeles, pitching to a 3.51 ERA/3.60 FIP across 387 innings from 2016-19.
George Springer is also dealing with some soreness. Toronto’s new centerfielder is day-to-day with left abdominal tightness, tweets Nicholson-Smith. This doesn’t appear to be anything to be overly concerned about, however. He sat out today’s game and could be back as soon as tomorrow. The 31-year-old dealt with a number of injuries during his Houston tenure, though he rarely missed significant time. Since joining the Astros two weeks into 2014 and missing a chunk of his rookie campaign with a quad strain, Springer averaged 133 games per season from 2015-19. He played in 51 games during the shortened 2020 season.