Teams spend countless resources trying to identify, acquire, and develop the next great reliever even though the position is fraught with unpredictability. There are skills that point to potential success, of course. Great stuff and the ability to miss bats is highly valued in the late innings. Missing the barrel and limiting hard contact can work too, though balls in play can equal bad things.
As a reliever last season Sims saw his velocity jump and his strikeout rate jump with it — he struck out 36.4 percent of batters faced as a reliever last year compared to his career 18.8 percent strikeout rate as a starter. Sims complements his high spin mid-90s fastball with two distinct low-to-mid-80s breaking balls. He has a curveball that breaks down, like this:
78.5 mph Slider spin Last year Sims threw 50 percent fastballs and 50 percent breaking balls. Pressly was at one-third fastballs, one-third sliders, and one-third curveballs. For Sims, that’s a pitch mix worth trying in 2020. Air it out in short bursts and spin the crap out the ball. He already misses a ton of bats as a reliever. Throwing those breaking balls more often could make him one of the game’s top strikeout artists.
|“This offseason, we took some of that data and talked about ‘all right, how can we utilize it more?'” Sims told Nightengale. “As far as that, now it’s using those pitches, sequencing them the correct way and at the end of the day, still pitching to my strengths. You know, we preach to be great at what you’re good at.”||“This offseason, we took some of that data and talked about ‘all right, how can we utilize it more?'” Sims told Nightengale. “As far as that, now it’s using those pitches, sequencing them the correct way and at the end of the day, still pitching to my strengths. You know, we preach to be great at what you’re good at.”||Curveball velocity|
|2,531 rpm||2,601 rpm|
|The Yankees had not finalized Loaisiga’s role prior to the shutdown but he has experience starting and relieving. His body has told us throughout his career it is not up to the rigors of starting. In order to keep Loaisiga on the field, it might be best to put him in the bullpen full-time, where his experience as a starter and three-pitch mix could make him a dynamic multi-inning option a la teammate Chad Green or Mets righty Seth Lugo.||With that in mind, here are three pitchers who’ve shown the skills that suggest they could be on the verge of bullpen stardom. We’re going to focus on pitchers with a decent number of big-league innings, so Indians strikeout machine James Karinchak (22.0 K/9 in the minors!) doesn’t make the cut following his brief September cameo. No one will be surprised if he has huge success.||Fastball velocity|
|Why did Adams not get his first extended taste of the show until his age-28 season? Control, mostly. Adams has a 12.5 percent walk rate in 123 1/3 career Triple-A innings, and it was a 12.3 percent walk rate in the big leagues last year. Relievers can be very effective with a high walk rate — Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman are two of the best relievers of their generation and they both own career walk rates north of 11 percent — but it does give them a smaller margin for error.||“When he’s been healthy, the strikeout numbers speak for themselves,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told MLB.com’s Greg Johns last September. “He’s got a special pitch. That slider is really a wipeout. He’s got the demeanor you like out of a reliever, no situation is really too big for him. He likes being out there. I like bringing him in with traffic. He’s got a chance to strike anybody in the league out. He’s had a nice year.”||93.4 mph|
84.7 mph Had the bullpen-needy Nationals not won the World Series last year, their decision to trade righty Austin Adams to the Mariners for a fringe prospect and cash would’ve raised quite a few eyebrows. Instead, Washington won a title, and no one really cares that they gave away a 28-year-old pitcher who struck out 51 batters in 31 innings following the trade.
And he has a slider that sweeps across the plate. Last year 549 pitchers threw at least 100 sliders. Sims had the eighth-highest spin rate at 3,004 rpm. There were 454 pitchers who threw at least 100 curveballs. Sims had the fifth -ighest spin rate at 3,120 rpm. Few pitchers in the sport can spin the ball like him. He owns two top-of-the-line breaking balls. Sims, who is still 25, is about as good a candidate to be the next Ryan Pressly as any pitcher in the sport. Pressly showed two elite spin breaking balls with the Twins but only had intermittent success. The Astros helped him tighten up both the slider and curveball, and also optimize his pitch mix (i.e. more breaking balls and fewer fastballs), and he became an impact high-leverage reliever. Fastball velocity
96.8 mph Curveball spin
Furthermore, Loaisiga has shown a knack for limiting hard contact. Statcast puts his career expected slugging percentage at .410 based on exit velocity and launch angle, which is essentially equal to the .412 league average. Considering more than 54 percent of his career innings have come in homer happy Yankee Stadium, an expecting slugging percentage in that range is impressive. Loaisiga gets whiffs and doesn’t get hit hard. Unlike Adams and Loaisiga, Reds righty Lucas Sims is a former first-round pick and highly regarded prospect. He was consistently ranked in the middle of top 100 prospects lists in 2014 and 2015, though his big-league career has involved up-and-down duty as a spot starter and reliever the last three years. During that time Sims has a 5.49 ERA in 116 1/3 innings.