Blue Jays Reliever Mitch White is Doing Everything Right Early This Season

Reliever Mitch White has found a home in the Blue Jays bullpen as the dedicated long reliever, producing quality outings early this year.

ST PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 31: Mitch White #45 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on March 31, 2024 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

At the 2022 trade deadline, the Toronto Blue Jays were looking to add some pitching depth with both Yusei Kikuchi and José Berríos struggling on the mound. The front office set their sights on right-hander Mitch White, a swingman type of pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers who had a tough time cracking the big league rotation given the depth within the organization.

With prospect Nick Frasso heading the opposite way in the trade deadline transaction, a deal that Jays’ prospect watchers will still not endorse to this day, White and prospect Alex De Jesus were officially Blue Jays while Moises Brito joined Frasso in California.

Through the rest of the 2022 season and into 2023, the Blue Jays faithful did not see a lot of positives from the California product, fuelling the fire of those who lamented the trade from the get-go.

White struggled on the mound following the deal, producing a 7.74 ERA with 37 earned runs across 43 innings. He started in the rotation and later joined Kikuchi in the bullpen to end the year, finishing the season with a 3.76 FIP and a 1.744 WHIP, producing a 12.3 H/9 along the way.

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His second season with the Jays also got off to a sour note, as what looked to be an opportunity for White to compete for a rotation spot turned into him starting the year on the IL with elbow inflammation. Once healthy, White was moved to the bullpen but did not find success there as well, allowing ten earned through 12 2/3 innings while producing a 1.737 WHIP. He allowed runs in his first two outings and followed that with seven earned in July across four appearances. With the Jays needing a 40-man roster spot at the trade deadline, White was designated for assignment and passed through waivers finishing the year in triple-A Buffalo.

This past offseason, White was added back to the 40-man roster and heading into Spring Training, he was being stretched out as a starter, although his best chance for a roster spot was him heading back to the bullpen considering he needed a spot on the active roster or risk being DFA’d again. Through six outings, the 29-year-old allowed nine earned across 18 innings but the biggest improvement was his velocity. He routinely flirted with the high 90s with his fastball and limited opponents to a .175 average while generating 14 strikeouts.

With his ability to pitch multiple innings and an uptick in his fastball, White cracked the Opening Day roster and firmly inserted himself in the Jays bullpen as the club’s long-man, ready to go should any starter struggle out of the gate. So far this season, the right-hander has produced some quality outings and has been a huge help for the Blue Jays in multiple capacities.

In his first appearance, White followed reliever Nate Pearson who replaced starter Kevin Gausman, who only had one start under his belt this past spring after a shoulder injury limited his ramp-up. Tasked with eating up some innings with Gausman and Pearson getting them through five, White took over in the sixth inning and was lights out the rest of the way. He held the Rays batters hitless through three innings and the only damage on his stat line was a walk on the first batter he saw, with White earning his first win of the season (and of his Jays career) for his efforts.

His second outing was the one that has the most significance so far this season, with White replacing Gausman once again but in a completely different scenario.

The Blue Jays ace was struggling against the Yankees and had allowed four hits, two walks, and six runs with five earned through 1 1/3 innings. White entered the second inning once again needing to eat up some innings, with Juan Soto at first base and one out. He did allow a hit to Aaron Judge to put runners on first and second but he settled down and got Anthony Rizzo to line out to second base, which resulted in Soto being doubled up and the Jays getting out of the inning without any further runs scoring.

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The rest of the way, White put up a solid effort against a tough Yankees squad, allowing just four hits across 4 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out two as well. He allowed a two-run home run to Rizzo on an inside pitch that wasn’t a bad pitch by any means but just a better-struck ball by the lefty-batter and another run later in the game when Tim Mayza couldn’t sit down Soto, which scored the inherited runner charged to White.

While the stats won’t be eye-popping, what White did was monumental regarding the long game for the Blue Jays.

Without an off-day until later this week, the reliever was able to eat away some innings after a rough start from Gausman and save some bullpen arms for another day while still keeping the Jays in the game, which almost came to fruition with a late surge from the bats that fell just short in the ninth.

It has been some time since the Jays had a dedicated long man down in the relief corps and White was able to fill that role out of the gate and has done a superb job so far.

The biggest test for White will be consistency, as the Jays will need him to continue being able to go multiple innings every three to five days without letting the game get out of hand. If he is entering the game, it is most likely on the heels of a tough start or a pitcher that is getting too high in the pitch count and he will need to pitch multiple quality innings to either keep the Jays within striking distance of a win or to save the arms in the bullpen, both of which have significant importance throughout the regular season.

So far, the outcomes have been positive for a pitcher who has a spotty track record since joining Toronto. Should he keep things trending in the right direction, there is a good chance White could be a factor at the big league level the rest of the season as the Blue Jays dedicated long reliever.

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