An often overlooked prospect, Blue Jays bullpen prospect Jake Fishman could play an important role for New Hampshire and Buffalo in 2020
The topic of which reliever will fill the Blue Jays’ vacant lefty role in 2020. I covered Travis Bergen and Kirby Snead in recent “2020 Blue Jays Internal Bullpen Candidate” posts. In this post, I would like to offer another lefty who hasn’t received much attention, Jake Fishman. I won’t go so far as to suggest he is an ‘Internal Candidate’ for the lefty role in the Blue Jays bullpen but I do think he will play an important role from the bullpen for Buffalo and New Hampshire.
LHP Jake Fishman
The 24-yr-old lefty got his first taste of Double-A in 2019. As a member of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats bullpen, Fishman went 1-1 with 4 save while posting a 3.45ERA. He struck out 74 and walked 18 across 62.2 innings while consistently throwing multiple innings. He throws a FB in the low 90’s which he compliments with low 80’s change and slider. Also, his delivery has a little funk, throwing across his body somewhere between sidearm and 3/4.
The former 30th round selection from the 2016 Draft struggled in May and June. Fishman had ‘a period during the season where he felt like he forgot how to throw the baseball’ (full post). After finishing April with a 2.84ERA, 16K, 8 hits allowed, and 5BB for a 1.03WHIP in 7 appearances (12.2IP), Fishman struggled to a 5.73ERA and 1.64WHIP in May. He improved in June with a 4.26ERA and 1.26WHIP in 8 appearances (14.1IP).
Jake Fishman posted his best ERA in July with a 1.88ERA. He walked one and struck out 18 in 9 appearances while finishing with a 1.26WHIP. Despite the solid ERA, Fishman did allow too much contact, as opponents batted .293 off him. The lefty improved upon this in August, holding opponents to a .195BA but finished with a 3.09ERA in 9 appearances (11.2IP).
Some guys struggled when pitching off a certain mound. For Fishman, it was his home mound. On the road, he posted a 1.54ERA and 1.09WHIP in 22 appearances while finishing with a 5.86ERA and 1.48WHIP at home.
Fishman consistently pitched multiple innings which suggest the manager was confident he could get RHB and LHB out and allowed him to pitch a lot of innings out of the bullpen for the second season (62.2IP in ’19 and 57.0IP in ’18). He held LH opponents to a .223BA with RHB hitting .275. All four home runs Fishman allowed came off RHB.
Fangraphs tells us that Jake Fishman did a good job of generating groundballs (50.9GB%) and held the opposition to 0.57 home runs per 9 innings. His 7.7% HR/FB was a little high which can be attributed to his low 31.1FB%. As a member of the Fisher Cats bullpen, Jake posted a tidy 10.63K/9 and 2.59BB/9 while holding opponents to a .249BA. His 2.77xFIP suggests that Fishman pitched better than his ERA would indicate.
The logical next step for Jake Fishman would be to join the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons’ bullpen. Unfortunately, he is might be blocked by fellow lefties Kirby Snead, Travis Bergen, and Tayler Saucedo. Therefore, he could return to New Hampshire to begin the year.
The Fisher Cats bullpen will benefit from having a relief pitcher with Double-A success return to their ranks. Fishman, along with veteran Vinny Nittoli, will help with the transition for Emerson Jimenez, Kyle Weatherly, Connor Law, and Matt Shannon from the Florida State League to the Eastern League. It will also allow him to improve upon his ugly 8.50ERA with RISP (18.0IP) and 6.75ERA Late/Close (8.0IP).
Jake Fishman will get a chance to pitch in Triple-A at some point in 2020 but being exposed during the Rule V Draft and going unclaimed tells me the organization feels he isn’t ready for the major leagues. To be fair, Fishman is not a fireball pitcher which is what many teams covet at the Rule V Draft.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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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.