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Blue Jays Notes: Mitch White's New Pitch, Chad Green's Winter Decision

Inside The Blue Jays on FanNation logo Inside The Blue Jays on FanNation 3/9/2023 Mitch Bannon

Blue Jays notes on Mitch White's new changeup, Chad Green's decision to join Toronto, and Spencer Horwitz's plate approach.

Mitch White's fight for the fifth starter role hasn't truly started yet.

A shoulder impingement delayed the righty's spring buildup and he's only just begun throwing bullpens. It's unclear if White will be healthy in time to push for a rotation spot, but he's dealt with the injury before and is confident he'll soon be back in game action. When he does begin facing hitters again, it'll be with a new weapon—one inspired by three-time Cy Young winner.

Here are some notes on White's new pitch, Chad Green on why he joined Toronto, and prospect Spencer Horwitz on his plate approach and the WBC:

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Scherzer Inspires Mitch White's New Pitch

After Mitch White joined the Blue Jays at the 2022 trade deadline, the team urged him to mix in the changeup more. Pitching coach Pete Walker felt it was an excellent complement to his fastball/slider/curve mix, so White upped the change usage from ~1% to 8.5%. However, he struggled to consistently command the pitch and it found the zone just 30% of the time—the lowest rate of any of his deliveries.

Mitch White's Pitch Usage By Month (2022) © Provided by Inside The Blue Jays on FanNation Mitch White's Pitch Usage By Month (2022)

White enters 2023 camp working on a different variation of the pitch. He calls it the reverse of Max Scherzer's changeup grip, rotating his hand forward so White's middle finger sits within the horseshoe of the seams and his pinky and thumb support the ball. The new grip is more comfortable, White said, allowing him to "trust the movement" on the throw, which is crucial for a feel pitch like the changeup. The righty hopes the new change will be a weapon falling away from lefties and could help him disguise his best pitch (the slider) against righties.

Chad Green's Offseason Decision

Chad Green's decision to join the Blue Jays this winter came down to potential and patience.

The 31-year-old reliever is familiar with the Blue Jays, pitching against them out of the Yankee bullpen for the last seven years. He's seen the current core mature, Green said, and the pieces they've added around the young group excited him.

But, in free agency, Green was also looking for a team that had patience and would sign a contract that reflected that. The righty had Tommy John surgery in June, 2022 and won't realistically impact MLB games until at least August. While most TJ free agents sign short-term deals to rebuild value, Green didn't want a one- or two-year deal that pushed him to rush back and perform for the next contract.

In the Blue Jays, Green found that patient team and he signed a convoluted deal that'll keep him in Toronto for anywhere from one to four years. The deal, explained well by FanGraphs, essentially provides both insurance and upside for both sides, while allowing Green to work back at a normal pace this summer.

"It was definitely confusing at first," Green said. "It took maybe a few phone calls to actually understand the contract, but you also have to get somebody that was willing to do that type of deal."

Spencer Horwitz On Plate Approach

No baseball player likes striking out, but Spencer Horwitz hates it.

The Blue Jays' 1B/OF prospect has long commanded the zone, walking at a 21.1% clip in his final college season. But, climbing the minors and approaching the big leagues, Horwitz's eye has gotten even better. In 2022, he posted a 15.1% walk rate against near-MLB pitching, the highest mark of any Blue Jays prospects at any full-season level.

Blue Jays Qualified Minor-League Walk Rate Leaders (2022) FanGraphs © Provided by Inside The Blue Jays on FanNation Blue Jays Qualified Minor-League Walk Rate Leaders (2022) FanGraphs

One Blue Jays coach identified Horwitz's "barrel awareness" as the key, but the prospect credits his stellar eye to the combo of natural approach and data. Horwitz and coaches—who he calls “translators of information"—break down pitchers’ individual tendencies before games, complete pitching staff tendencies before series, and how all pitchers are attacking him, specifically, throughout the year.

The lefty's eye/power combo will push him into Toronto's MLB plans as soon as this year, but he'll first star for Team Israel at the World Baseball Classic. Horwitz is slated to play a role in the outfield for an Israeli squad featuring former Blue Jay Danny Valencia and Giants slugger Joc Pederson.

"I'm just going to try and soak it all in," Horwitz said.


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