Blue Jays Righthander Patrick Murphy Is Proving To Be Worth The Wait
DUNEDIN, Fla. — Blue Jays righthander Patrick Murphy needed a lot of time and patience just to get to where he is today. In his six-year pro career, he’s been through nearly every major injury a pitcher can suffer.
He had Tommy John surgery after his junior season in high school. While rehabbing, Murphy started feeling numbness and tingling in his hand when he raised it above his head. Doctors believed that was a sign of thoracic outlet syndrome, so he had the corresponding surgery in 2014.
When that failed to relieve all of the symptoms, Murphy went under the knife again. This time doctors repositioned nerves in his pitching elbow. That was in 2015, and it finally worked.
By the time the next season rolled around, Murphy was ready to resume a career that had been paused for two full seasons. Since then, he’s bounced between both levels of A-ball with a one-start cameo at Double-A New Hampshire mixed in early this season.
He’s at high Class A Dunedin now, and it’s easy to see why the Blue Jays were willing to wait this long for Murphy to get healthy. The 23-year-old was dominant on Monday against Florida, attacking hitters with a mid-90s fastball that touched as high as 98 on occasion.
The pitch showed hard, natural cut life at times, and two-seam life at others. He paired the pitch primarily with a power curveball in the low 80s that he showed the ability to both freeze hitters in the strike zone and bury in the dirt for swings and misses.
"Growing up, I always loved my fastball and curveball, and obviously since getting back into the swing of things pitching in full-season my changeup’s been a work in progress and what I’ve been focusing on,” Murphy said during spring training this year. "Fastball and curveball has always been there, but I just need to keep further developing them and being consistent, and also keep progressing with the changeup.”
He got swings and misses on all three of his pitches on Monday while racking up six strikeouts in seven innings of four-hit ball. The changeup showed in the high-80s — plenty of separation from his fastball — with fading life away from lefthanders. He went through numerous grips before settling on what he calls a "three-finger offset grip” that felt most comfortable.
Still, he knows the pitch needs to keep improving, and the only way to do that is to keep throwing it over and over again.
"Just throwing it, even if it’s not the result I want or if I’m getting hit or not getting the location I want,” Murphy said, "just keep throwing it until I get the feel. The changeup is a big feel pitch, so once I finally figured out a grip I liked and consistently threw it I started getting the hang of it and now I’m comfortable throwing it.”
Everything clicked for Murphy on Monday, and afterward Florida manager Luis Salazar had high praise for the pitcher who had just cut down his team.
"We had no chance,” Salazar said. "This guy’s got major league stuff: Electric fastball, breaking ball. We were lucky to score two runs.”
It’s been a long time coming, but Murphy is finally healthy and showing exactly why he’s been worth the wait.