Nate Pearson will face a formidable mound opponent Wednesday night when he makes his major league debut against the host Washington Nationals.
The 23-year-old right-hander will oppose right-hander Max Scherzer (0-1, 6.75 ERA).
Pearson, whose fastball can hit 100 mph, is ranked as Toronto’s top prospect.
“The sky’s the limit with this kid,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch, just like everybody else.”
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, is 170-90 with a 3.20 ERA in his career. He took the loss Thursday in the season opener against the New York Yankees, allowing four runs, six hits and four walks while striking out 11 in 5 1/3 innings.
In nine career starts against the Blue Jays, Scherzer is 4-2 with a 2.24 ERA. He is 33-23 with a 2.99 ERA in 81 career starts at Nationals Park.
“I’m looking forward to matching up with Max Scherzer,” Pearson said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball and a pitcher I looked up to a lot growing up, seeing him around the league.”
The Blue Jays, who have won the first two games of the four-game series as the visiting team, will be the home team for the final two games, though the venue will remain the same. Toronto has won three of its first five games this season while 2019 World Series champion Washington has lost four of five.
The Canadian government ruled that the Blue Jays cannot play their home games in Toronto because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the club’s alternate home in Buffalo is not yet ready for games. As a result, the next two games that were originally scheduled to be played in Toronto are being played at Nationals Park.
“I think we’re bringing the walkup music for each player,” Montoyo said.
The Blue Jays will bat in the bottom of the inning.
“That’s the only difference other than that we’re playing in their park,” Montoyo said.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez said, “I think still we are playing at home, which is kind of nice. The whole object is safety, obviously. The only difference is we are going to be wearing grey pants. I don’t know what color shirt we will be wearing, but we will have grey pants on. We did wear our grays during our intrasquad, so they’re used to that.”
The Nationals were held to four hits — one after the third inning — in their 5-1 loss on Tuesday. They obviously are missing left fielder Juan Soto, who tested positive for COVID-19 and was put on the injured list Thursday. He could be back soon after having a second consecutive negative test on Tuesday.
MLB protocol requires two negative tests at least 24 hours apart before a player can return to competition.
“Now we are waiting for him to be cleared by MLB and D.C. Department of Health,” Martinez said.
Emilio Bonifacio started in left field Tuesday and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
The Blue Jays were without shortstop Bo Bichette (tight left hamstring), outfielder Randal Grichuk (lower back irritation) and infielder Travis Shaw (family leave).
Santiago Espinal started at shortstop on Tuesday and picked up his first major league hit, a ninth-inning single.
–Field Level Media