Ryan Feierabend set to make return to majors with Blue Jays as an ever-rare left-handed knuckleballer
Feierabend, 33, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2014 -- before he became a knuckler
The Toronto Blue Jays can't seem to catch a break with their rotation. They entered Friday with four starters on the injured list. Aaron Sanchez then left his start early due to a blister. While Sanchez isn't expected to miss time, the thought of having to find another replacement arm had to send shivers down Toronto's collective spine. After all, the Blue Jays have already this week turned to professional nomad Edwin Jackson to fill one of their vacancies.
On Saturday, they'll tap another journeyman for a start. This time it'll be Ryan Feierabend, who will become Major League Baseball's first left-handed knuckleballer in some time.
Feierabend is no stranger to the Show, of course. He reached the big leagues as a 20-year-old with the 2006 Seattle Mariners, but fell out of favor with 25 uninspiring appearances over the ensuing three seasons. He pitched in the majors most recently in 2014, having since spent the interim period pitching overseas in Korea, where he embraced the knuckler.
As Jay Jaffe noted on FanGraphs back in February, Feierabend isn't exclusively a knuckleballer, the way some others who have mastered the pitch have been. This season, he's used his fastball about as frequently as his knuckler, per a league source. That formula has worked for him, as he's posted a 2.70 ERA and 2.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio across three starts in Triple-A.
What makes Feierabend most noteworthy is that he's a southpaw. These types of things are tough to track down, but it would appear that he'll be the first left-handed knuckler to pitch in the majors since Danny Boone in 1990. Should Feierabend find sustained success, he'd be the first lefty knuckler to do so since Wilbur Wood back in the '60s and '70s.
Feierabend's first assignment, by, the way, will come against the Chicago White Sox. Considering the White Sox have the ninth-worst team OPS versus lefties, it would seem as though he has a good opportunity to get off on the right foot.
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