One last set of report cards before we get to the ALDS tonight, but before we get to them, I have a shameless plug*.
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Back to capping off the 2022 regular season: Now that we’re through with the position players and starting pitchers, let’s look at the report cards for the relievers. I went with relievers who threw at least 40 innings as Yankees for today’s chat, which eliminates Scott Effross and Lou Trivino who joined the Yanks over the summer, and it eliminates Aroldis Chapman who only threw 36 innings on the season, for various reasons. We’ll come back to those three in a moment…
It’s also worth noting as I previously mentioned, I’m not a fan of ERA for starters, but I think it’s absolutely useless for relievers. Due to pitching so many fewer innings overall and generally only one or two at a time, one disastrous outing can destroy a reliever’s ERA and make it look as if he pitched worse than he did over the entirety of the season.
Secondly, although I like a starter’s ability to keep the ball on the ground, I love a reliever’s ability to do so. A starter can give up a solo shot (or two or three) and it’s usually not the end of the world. A reliever usually has far less margin for error as they’re often in a close game late in the game, and also quite often come in with runners on base. For those reasons, the long ball is often crushing to a team if surrendered by a relief pitcher. For that reason, ground ball rate is important when judging relief pitchers, in my mind.
Otherwise, similar to starters, I tend to lean on the stats that eliminate team defense as a factor in the pitcher’s numbers. And for the sake of comparison, all numbers below are rankings among 203 MLB pitchers who threw at least 40 innings in 2022.
So let’s get to it – in no particular order…
Among those 203 MLB relievers, King finished above the 90th percentile in K-BB%, xFIP, and allowing the fewest percentage of inherited runners to score. He ranked 32nd in average exit velocity allowed and was better than the league average at keeping the ball on the ground. All of that combined with the temperament to not shy away from big spots and King was one of MLB’s best prior to his season-ending elbow injury. The injury, which limited him to only 51 innings is the only thing keeping his grade down somewhat as he was a huge part of the Yankees’ success early on in the season.
Although a regression to the mean and some injury dings brought Homes back down to earth after a dominating first half of the season, he still was a very valuable pitcher to the Yankees in 2022 overall. He led all MLB relievers in ground ball rate, was 24th out of 203 in xFIP, and was in the top half in the league in both K-BB% and preventing inherited runners to score. That kind of success over 63 innings was a key part of the Yankees’ pitching staff in 2022.
Peralta was better than the league average among relievers in xFIP, ground ball rate, and preventing inherited runners to score in 2022. Over 56 innings he showed a phenomenal ability to prevent hard contact, ranking in the 84th percentile in average exit velocity allowed, and turned into a reliable arm out of the bullpen for the Yanks, particularly against left-handed batters.
Loáisiga was limited to 48 innings in ’22 and certainly wasn’t the force that he was in 2021 for the Yankees, but he did pitch better than most fans seem to give him credit for. The K-BB% and xFIP were uncharacteristically bad for him in 2022, but his MLB-leading average exit velocity allowed seemed to keep him out of big trouble throughout the year – something his 84th percentile ranking in preventing inherited runners to score would attest.
Luetge, similar to Loáisiga, was unspectacular in 2022 but was also great at avoiding hard contact (93rd percentile in exit velocity allowed) which kept him out of big trouble most of the year. I’m certainly not going to say he should be on the mound in the 9th of a tied postseason game, but a lefty who’s similarly effective versus right and left-handed batters who can eat an inning or two and provides about one WAR over 162 is a good guy to have around.
Marinaccio was a pleasant surprise this season for the Yanks as he was better than average at preventing inherited runners to score and was also elite at generating soft contact (6th out of 203 in exit velocity allowed) which made him very good at keeping the ball in the park. His high walk rate was the only issue for him in ’22, which of course, is not insignificant.
Schmidt is the reason I don’t trust my eyes – and you shouldn’t trust yours – as every time I saw him this year he looked great. Despite the sharp break on the breaking ball and good ride on the fastball (he ranked in the 93rd percentile in spin rate on both pitches), he didn’t avoid contact as much as one would expect and ranked in the middle of the pack in pretty much everything we’ve talked about today. But the middle of the pack is far from bad, and 57 innings of it over 162 games is a useful pitcher.
Of course, Scott Effross and Lou Trivino who were acquired mid-season are now important parts of the Yankees bullpen and we’re likely to see them in big spots over the next week (hopefully more), but neither hit the 40-inning mark as Yankees in 2022. Of course, we have to acknowledge the miscreant with the infected tattoo in the room, known as Aroldis Chapman. Due to ineffectiveness (to put it mildly) and health problems (some self-induced) Chapman did not meet the 40-inning criteria to be graded today. But if he had, the garbage performance amplified by the even worse behavior would have earned him the only F on the Yankees roster this season. His absence from the team in real life is more of a win for us than his absence on this list is.
(*Author’s note: Just after this was published, I saw that Scott Effross won’t be on the ALDS roster.)
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