Jays From the Couch looks into possible reasons for Blue Jays to be concerned over fan favorite Roberto Osuna.
I wrote a piece about the bullpen. In it, I spoke extensively about the fantastic year that Roberto Osuna is having for the Blue Jays. I wrote that the Jays should use him for all sorts of two inning, four or five out games. And as good as he has been, because he has been good, I am terrified. Am I fear mongering, maybe. Probably. Definitely. But, I am a Torontonian, a lifelong Toronto sports fan, and by golly, fear mongering is all I know, and what I do best.
Roberto Osuna has a home run problem. I spoke about it in some previous pieces. Basically, he gives up a lot of fly balls (45.7% career rate), but he doesn’t limit hard contact particularly well (27.0% career rate, hovering around average). You see, the issue with this is, that this year, his contact has gotten harder, from 25.7% t0 31.5%, he also has lifted his pull rate against from 37.4% to 42.6%. While doing all of this, he has managed to lower his HR/FB from 8.5% to 4.2%. This is where the concern is coming from. It has been long understood in the baseball community that pulled fly balls are the greatest indicator of future jumps in home run rate, but Osuna’s has magically gone down.
Now, it isn’t all bad news. He is striking out more batters than last year, from 27.7% to 30.2%. But, I’m not gonna let you feel good about that for very long either. Sure he is getting more strikeouts, but at the same time, the overall contact rate has risen from 70.4% to 72.9%, and this is even further accentuated by his out of zone contact, at 62.3%. So he is striking out more batters, even though they are making more contact than ever before.
Recap, all indicators are pointing to more home runs, but for some reason there are fewer. At the same time, everything that effects his strikeout rate is trending in the wrong direction as well, but again, with reasons unbeknownst to me or the mortal world, he is striking out more guys than ever as well. And I am not done.
His walk rate jumped up from 5.9% to 7.0%, which is not big, but also does not look good for him. But wait, there’s more: his BABIP against is a tiny .208, lower by .030 points than last year, which until now was the lowest of any year in his career, including the minor leagues, so this suggests regression back to the mean. His pop up rate contributes to this, as it is sitting at a clean 25.0%, which would be the highest in the league of all qualified relievers last year, and given his previous 8.5%, is also cause for concern because those pop ups are free outs, just like strikeouts.
There is some hope, he is a kid who throws heat who hasn’t gotten any less talented over the past few months. But, I’d be a little worried, and watching very carefully to see what might come for our favourite AL East closer in the near future. I am worried, and I think you should be too.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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