Final week, we checked out just a few single-inning relievers who modified arms within the current flurry of transactions. We’ll wrap up this collection with one other small reliever signing, in addition to taking a look at two swingman/starter-types who may have a bigger position on their new groups within the upcoming season.
Rockies purchase Cal Quantrill from Guardians in trade
With Quantrill coming off a career-worst yr and with a looming arbitration wage estimated at $6.6 million, the Guardians determined to half methods with the 28-year-old righty, designating him for project to clear up 40-man roster area. The Rockies opted to chop the waiver line, buying him in trade for low-minors catcher Kody Huff.
Quantrill has by no means had premium stuff, getting by with a various pitch arsenal and a fair proportion of batted ball luck. In 2021 and ’22, as his position developed from lengthy reduction to identify starter to rotation lock, he ran ERAs round three with xERAs and FIPs above 4. Whereas some regression in his outcomes was inevitable, his collapse this previous season was the results of underlying adjustments relatively than regression to the imply. Previously a quintessential management artist who generated mushy contact and floor balls due to glorious pitch placement, he posted profession worsts in stroll charge, barrel charge, and floor ball charge, and his inconsistent command was evident in pitch location information.
Cal Quantrill PitchingBot Metrics
Quantrill threw extra waste pitches, stepping into unhealthy counts on choices that might have been chases in previous seasons. As a pitcher with out overwhelming stuff, throwing off hitters’ swing choices is a key part of his capability to get strikeouts. However his incapacity to land pitches on the perimeters of the zone made it simpler for them to put off unhealthy pitches and made them extra aggressive on hittable ones. Specifically, his cutter stands out as a pitch that hitters noticed exceptionally nicely, as what was beforehand his greatest pitch by run worth turned his worst, permitting a .495 slugging proportion. Final season, the cutter’s common location drifted about three inches upwards and a nudge extra to Quantrill’s arm facet — in different phrases, proper down the center. His sinker was nonetheless situated successfully, however with subpar motion on each planes, he can’t depend on it to overlook barrels.
Quantrill’s career-worst strikeout charge of 13.1% isn’t simply poor by his requirements; it’s virtually remarkable within the trendy sport. The potential risks of such a pitch-to-contact strategy are magnified in his new dwelling of Coors Subject, by far essentially the most hitter-friendly park in baseball due to its expansive outfield space and skinny air. Whereas the Rockies want innings from anybody with a pulse, their main pitching targets must be high-strikeout arms who settle for an elevated stroll charge as the price of doing enterprise. Free passes aren’t nice, however they’ll solely advance runners one base; a ball into the Colorado outfield may be far worse than that. It’s not not possible for Quantrill to grow to be a fantastic innings-eater on his new group, however he’ll must get his strikeout charge again to acceptable ranges and reverse his worrying development in command to take action.
Rays declare Tyler Alexander from Tigers on waivers
Alexander spent 5 years with the Tigers as a textbook swingman, with stints in each the beginning rotation and bullpen and averaging a shade below three innings per look. He matches the profile of a back-end starter or lengthy reliever: he’s left-handed, throws each pitch sort (however none very nicely), doesn’t throw exhausting, and fills the strike zone with plus command. He threw about 100 innings in every of his first two full seasons and was on observe to take action once more in 2023 earlier than a lat pressure prematurely ended his season. That damage received’t price him any time in 2024, however the Tigers felt his position was replaceable sufficient that they waived him to clear 40-man area, and the Rays claimed him after the remainder of the AL handed.
A fast look on the stat sheet tells you virtually the whole lot it’s essential find out about Alexander’s observe file of efficiency. In his abbreviated 2023 stint, he walked simply 2.8% of batters, second-best amongst relievers with not less than 40 innings pitched. His zone charge ranks within the 77th percentile, however he doesn’t simply throw strikes and hope for the most effective. His pitch heatmaps present a transparent plan when executing every pitch: cutters and sinkers that diverge from the center of the plate towards their respective edges, with secondaries that hug the underside corners of the zone.
Every of Alexander’s pitches transfer to their very own space of the plate, virtually as if he’s aiming for a similar spot each time and letting the pitch break towards its closing location on the final minute. Having an array of pitches with distinct motion profiles is a crucial software for somebody who can place the ball wherever he desires at will however doesn’t throw exhausting or possess another manner of racking up whiffs. From a pure stuff perspective, it’s spectacular that he’s discovered huge league success in any respect. His cutter has above-average specs; the remainder of his arsenal is nicely under. However the Location+ mannequin agrees with our evaluations of his location charts, giving him an above-average grade on all 5 of his pitches (as does PitchingBot’s command mannequin).
Tyler Alexander’s Arsenal
Alexander’s transfer to the Rays looks as if a strong pairing given their current run of success in getting essentially the most out of command-first pitchers. In his first season with Tampa Bay, previously common zone filler Zach Eflin had a profession yr, incomes Cy Younger votes. You possibly can chalk it as much as the Rays sprinkling their trademark magic mud on a pitcher and immediately turning him elite, however the changes he made had been relatively concrete: scaling up the utilization of his cutter and curveball to induce weak contact and maintain the ball on the bottom. They’ve had related successes with Jeffrey Springs and Zack Littell, who shortly stretched out to starter-length appearances with out sacrificing effectiveness. Alexander, with a little bit of beginning expertise himself, might construct up stamina for extra frequent time within the rotation.
Even when he doesn’t expertise a velo spike or an Eflin- or Springs-like enhance in efficiency, Alexander will nonetheless be an essential quantity contributor for the Rays. With almost a complete beginning rotation both on the 60-day IL or possibly on the way out via trade, they’ll be searching for begins to make and innings to fill. And whereas almost everybody on the group is projected to be nice on a charge foundation, it must be famous that Eflin’s 2023 marketing campaign is the one 170-inning season from anybody on Tampa’s present roster. In previous years, the Rays have relied on bulk pitchers like Ryan Yarbrough and Josh Fleming to take their flip amid accidents and roster churn. Alexander will possible fill their spot on the pitching workers and has a robust probability to be significantly higher than both of them.
Angels signal Adam Kolarek to one-year deal
Kolarek is maybe greatest recognized for his work with the Dodgers within the 2019 NLDS, the place he was used as a one-batter specialist to cope with the damaging Juan Soto. Whereas the latter had a 1.020 OPS within the collection, the previous set him down in all three of their matchups, twice through strikeout. In 2020, the three-batter minimal was carried out, making Kolarek probably the final devoted LOOGY in MLB historical past. The brand new guidelines additionally put an finish to his run as a full-time huge leaguer; he’s appeared in each season since however has by no means eclipsed 20 innings.
Kolarek’s model of pitching is designed to get lefties out, firing from a low slot virtually behind the eyes of same-handed batters. His main pitch is an upper-80s sinker, which he’s thrown as much as 80% of the time with adverse induced vertical break, producing loads of floor balls. He’s experimented with just a few seldom-used secondaries, however in his temporary 2023 look, he solely threw sliders to accompany the east/west motion of his sinker. Whereas his sinker is nice at discovering the thin a part of left-handed bats, its arm-side motion usually breaks into the barrels of right-handed hitters, who have already got the benefit of seeing his supply nicely out of the hand. All through his profession, opposite-handed hitters have collected an OPS increased than that of 2023 Corbin Carroll, a harmful proposition contemplating the three-batter minimal and the potential for substitutions even when he will get a string of lefties.
Adam Kolarek Profession Platoon Splits
In Anaheim, Kolarek will take the place of the departed Aaron Loup, a fellow lefty sidewinder who was equally ineffective towards all batters throughout his two-year run with the Angels. Regardless of his nature as a specialist, he possible slots in as their solely left-handed possibility in center reduction; their different selections in the meanwhile embrace José Quijada, out for a major chunk of the yr recovering from Tommy John surgical procedure, and swingmen José Suarez and Kenny Rosenberg, who’re higher suited to longer appearances than brief bursts.