The Blue Jays announced they have recalled righty Nate Pearson and selected the contract of right-hander Bryan Baker. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic first reported the moves last night. No corresponding transactions were necessary, as active rosters are expanding from 26 to 28 players today. Toronto created the vacancy on the 40-man roster required to promote Baker yesterday when they designated Brad Hand for assignment.
Pearson is one of the sport’s top prospects, with evaluators long suggesting his power arsenal could make him a top-of-the-rotation starter. The 25-year-old has gotten a few looks at the big league level over the past couple seasons but hasn’t yet had a real opportunity to fulfill his immense promise because of health issues. Pearson has had a couple stints on the injured list this year, limiting him to just one big league outing and twelve appearances (six starts) with Triple-A Buffalo.
Since returning from the minor league IL in the middle of August, Pearson has worked exclusively in relief, never facing more than five hitters in an outing. That’ll surely be the role he plays for Toronto down the stretch, with the hope that he can aid a bullpen that has struggled collectively for much of the season. Difficulty locking down late leads is perhaps the biggest reason the Jays enter the final month-plus of the season needing to erase a four and a half game deficit in the American League Wild Card standings. Presumably, the Jays will again look to lengthen Pearson back out as a starter next spring.
Baker will also step into the bullpen, as he’s exclusively a reliever. It’s the first major league call for the 26-year-old, who joined the pro ranks as a Rockies’ draftee in 2016 out of the University of North Florida. The Jays acquired Baker in August 2018 to complete the deal that sent reliever Seung-hwan Oh to Colorado.
Assigned to Buffalo to begin the year, Baker has spent the entire season to date with the Jays’ top affiliate. Over 34 innings, he’s posted a 1.32 ERA while striking out a strong 28.2% of opponents. Baker’s 11.3% walk rate is a bit high, but he’ll earn a big league look with his swing-and-miss numbers in the minors. The Jays would have had to add Baker to the 40-man roster this winter to keep him from selection in the Rule 5 draft, and they’ll make that call a bit ahead of schedule in hopes of finding a reliable middle innings option for manager Charlie Montoyo down the stretch.