As the baseball world waits for things to return to normal and the game to resume, JFtC takes a look at how they might use Sean Reid-Foley, going forward.
Sean Reid-Foley has had an up and down professional baseball career so far, both literally and figuratively speaking.
Drafted in 2014 by Toronto, he began his pro career that year. He worked his way up the Jays farm system over the next four seasons, making his MLB debut in 2018.
He has split time in 2018 and 2019 between MLB with Toronto and the minors. At times he has looked like a promising pitching talent. He pitched two, 10 strikeout games for the Jays in 2018.
But at other times, he has struggled to find consistency. His era in 2018 was an unspectacular 5.13. It was a bit better in 2019 at 4.26. Looking at some of his other numbers shows a concerning trend.
In 7 games in the majors in 2018, Reid Foley struck out opposing hitters at an impressive rate of 11.34 per 9 innings. The thought was if he could improve on the 5.67 walks per 9, he had a chance to be a good MLB pitcher. Unfortunately in 2019, both stats went the wrong way. His strikeouts per 9 went down to 7.96 and walks per 9 up to 5.97! It doesn’t matter what kind of talent you may have, you can’t walk six batters per nine innings and expect to have success.
Reid Foley was having a strong spring training before baseball was shut down. He pitched 6 innings over six games, giving up only one unearned run on five hits, with four strikeouts and only one walk.
While spring training results don’t always translate in to anything similar once the games start to count, the one stat that has me the most hopeful is the one walk. This doesn’t depend on the caliber of a pitcher’s opposition. It could mean the young right hander might have finally found command of the strike zone, which has been one of his biggest downfalls in his professional career to date.
The Jays optioned Reid Foley to AAA on March 20, so it appears that he will start the 2020 season there, whenever the season does begin.
His path back to MLB as part of the Jays rotation may be a longer one than it was two years ago. Toronto currently has a veteran laden rotation anchored by Hyun-Jin Ryu, followed by Tanner Roark, Matt Shoemaker and Chase Anderson. Sophomore righty Trent Thornton is battling Japanese import Shun Yamaguchi for the 5th starter’s spot.
In terms of the depth chart, Ryan Borucki had a solid 2018 season before battling injuries since then. Anthony Kay and TJ Zeuch will look to stay sharp at AAA, waiting for an opportunity. Nate Pearson is expected to make his MLB debut in 2020, with other high ceiling prospects further down the development ladder.
There may be a better fit for Reid Foley as a part of Toronto’s bullpen. Beyond Ken Giles, they don’t have a great deal of established MLB talent to pitch in relief roles.
Then there is the matter of Reid Foley himself and his makeup. First time through the order, his numbers are much better than they are later in the game. His era in the first inning over his MLB career to date is a very respectable 3.38. Second time through the order the era went up more than a run to 4.50. Third time through his era ballooned all the way up to 10.0.
Fangraphs rates two of his pitches as above average, his fastball and slider. He also throws a curveball and changeup but those are considered average or below. A pitcher with two good pitches, if he has good command of the strike zone, can often have success one time through the order. Once major league hitters have seen the arsenal of a two pitch pitcher, they have a chance to adjust and have better success next time up.
So if Reid Foley can’t find a way to improve his curveball or changeup, maybe he could just keep the two pitches that are working for him, and pitch out of the bullpen.
The fact that Jays management used him for an inning per game in the spring could be an indication of how they see his future, rather than trying to stretch him out as they did (and teams generally do) with starting pitchers or rotation candidates higher up on the depth chart.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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