Jays From the Couch brings you the player Highlights & Lowlights of the 2018 season. This time: Joe Biagini
I feel bad for Joe Biagini. The guy is a team-first player. He went from being a very nice Rule 5 surprise in 2016 to a guy without a role in 2017 to the hopeful savior of the rotation during the past offseason. The Blue Jays fan base, myself included, were very unkind to the 6’5″ right-hand reliever/starter in 2018. Many times throughout 2018 fans wanted nothing more than the Blue Jays to rid themselves of Big Joe. Designate for assignment, option, release, or trade.
Coming into the season, Joe Biagini was expected to challenge for the 5th spot in the rotation. The hope was for Joe was that he’d produce better results as a starter in 2018 than he did in 2017. These hopes were founded by Biagini having had an entire offseason to condition his body for the demands of a starting role, as well as having a clearly defined role throughout the entire Spring.
With the signing of SP Jaime Garcia, Biagini was moved down the depth charts to #6. He would start the year in Buffalo but less than 3 weeks into the season Joe Biagini would be wearing a Blue Jays uniform, debuting on April 17, allowing 3 runs over 5.2 innings. He was optioned to Buffalo a day later, recalled on May 3rd for a spot start and optioned a day later. Joe was recalled one last time on May 11th and never returned to the Bisons’ roster.
The Joe Biagini as a starter experiment was canned after Biagini failed to register 5 innings with less than 3 runs allowed in three May starts. Unfortunately, Biagini’s luck did chance in the bullpen, although, he showed flashes of looking like his 2016 self. The reliever turned starter turned reliever picked up his first win in game 87 on July 6th. It was his first win since in almost a year with his last W coming on July 26th. Between wins, Joe Biagini went 0-10 with 4 holds across 31 appearances, including 4 starts.
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Forgive me for being a little homer-ish but I don’t want to be too negative on poor old ‘Joe the Great’. I may be grasping at straws with some these highlights.
Joe set career highs with 72.0 IP, and a solid .355 BABIP. He showed improvement with a 71.4 LOB% when comparing is 61.5 LOB% from the previous year.
Joe’s best months were June and August. In June, Joe went 0-1 with a 4.02 ERA, striking out 13 and walking 2 batters across 13 appearances and 15.2 IP. Biagini posted his best K/9 in June with a 7.5. August saw Biagini make 12 appearances (17.0IP), finish 3 games (season high), register a record of 2-2 and an ERA of 4.76.
According to Brooks Baseball, the velocities of all of Biagini’s pitches remained consistent throughout his 3 yrs in the majors; however, his curve showed more depth and his cutter showed excellent movement resulting in ‘an extreme number of groundballs’ (Brooks).
The fact he was unable to run with the opportunity to start every 5th day is definitely the lowest lowlight. Despite all his pitch velocities remaining fairly consistent, his pitch value (Fangraphs) all dropped. His wFB went from 2.9 in 2016 to -8.3 and his wFA/C went from a positive outcome pitch in 2016 (0.79) to a negative outcome pitch in 2017 (-0.13) and 2018 (-0.11) as did all of Biagini’s pitches.
Hitters aren’t missing when Biagini’s pitches are in the zone (91.5 z-contact%). Big Joe started off only 65.6% of his at-bats with a first-pitch strike. His GB% dropped from 55.7% in 2017 down to 47.9% in 2018 resulting in a higher FB% of 32.1% versus 26.8% in 2017. These extra FB’s combined with 14 HRA pushed his HR/9 up to 1.75, an increase of more than half a home run per 9 innings. His K-rate (16.2%) decreased for the second season as did his K-BB% which fell to 8.8%.
Biagini didn’t himself any favors by pitching poorly at home. He finished with a home record of 3-3 with a 6.99 ERA in 25 games versus a road record of 1-4 with a 4.93 ERA in 25 games. Joe didn’t find any relief in platoon splits as RHB batted .315 off him and LHB batted .333.
Joe’s worse month was May (0-4, 9.82 ERA) followed by September (1-0, 8.10 ERA).
Joe Biagini will head to arbitration for the first time this offseason in his year 29 season. Joe is expected to see his salary double to 1.0M despite his poor performance in ’17 and ’18. I think he will fall somewhere between 700K and 800K.
He is being mentioned as a candidate to be non-tendered. While non-tendering Biagini is a possibility, it is unlikely, so my bet is that Biagini will be in the Blue Jays bullpen come Opening Day.
Biagini’s role will be dependant on which bullpen arms the Blue Jays sign minutes before Spring Training begins. At the moment we can expect Biagini to join Ken Giles, Ryan Tepera, and Tim Mayza with David Paulino, Danny Barnes, Justin Shafer, and Jose Fernandez providing competition/depth from the Buffalo.
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.