2020 Toronto Blue Jays Reflections: Julian Merryweather

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We continue our look at the 2020 Blue Jays by examining a pitcher who does actually exist: Julian Merryweather.

Merryweather, 29, was a fifth-round pick of the Cleveland Indians back in 2014 and steadily worked his way up through the Indians’ organization in the years since. He really put himself on the prospect map with his 2016 season in which he had a stellar 1.03 ERA and 1.02 WHIP through 61 innings in 11 starts for the Lynchburg Hillcats and was an All-Star in the Advanced-A Carolina League before he was promoted to Double-A Arkon and finished the year with a 3.89 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over another 74 innings. He struck out 119 and walked 32 batters that season combined between the two levels and landed as the #23 prospect in Cleveland’s organization before 2017 (according to Baseball America). His fastball was sitting between 93-95 as a starter, touching 97 mph while he worked with a changeup in progress and a breaking ball.

He started 2017 with a solid run of 50 2/3 innings in Double-A Akron but struggled after a promotion to Triple-A Columbus, logging 78 innings with a 6.58 ERA and 1.67 WHIP, striking out 76 and walking 25.

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Merryweather underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2018 and was traded to Toronto on October 5, 2018, completing the deal that sent Josh Donaldson to Cleveland for a player to be named later.

Complications from his surgery kept Merryweather out of all but two games in 2019 (one in the GCL and one in the Florida State League) and fans began to wonder if the Blue Jays truly did send Donaldson away for nothing in return.


Merryweather pitched three times in spring training of 2020 and posted a 13.50 ERA, allowing four runs on five hits with two walks in 2 2/3 innings, but he did strike out four batters and reports of his velocity spiking to 100 mph came to the fore.

When the season started in 2020, Merryweather had been assigned to the Alternate Training Site and would wait almost a month to make his MLB debut.

Merryweather donned a Blue Jays’ uniform in action for the first time on August 20 and faced five batters, striking out three and giving up just a hit in 1 1/3 innings. He struck out three in two scoreless innings in his next three subsequent outings, walking just three batters to his 12 strikeouts.

In September, Merryweather did show some cracks in his armour, allowing six runs over 7 2/3 innings, striking out just six batters and walking four.

Baseball Savant reports that his fastball averaged 96.7 mph in 2020 while his changeup appears to be his best pitch, generating 42.9% whiffs while the pitch had a WOBA (weighted on-base percentage) of .086 and an expected WOBA (XWOBA) of .138, compared to an XWOBA of .294 for his fastball and .309 for his slider.


With Merryweather, there is the potential for the Blue Jays to have a late-inning reliever with a big fastball. His changeup looks like a legit second pitch and if he can stay healthy, he should have a good chance at making the team out of the gate in 2021.


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