By now, we have all become aware of the home run explosion that’s occurred in the early weeks and the appearance of a juiced ball. High-leverage relievers have not been immune to the deluge of dingers. Josh Hader, Matt Barnes and Kenley Jansen all allowed home runs on Sunday that led to a loss or a blown save. The three normally-reliable relievers have teamed up to allow seven home runs over their last 8.1 innings combined. Hader has allowed homers in each of his last three appearances, Barnes has allowed one in each of his last two outings, and Jansen has given up two homers over his last three appearances.
Despite the rash of long balls, it’s far too soon to be concerned about any of the three. Hader is still missing bats at a stratospheric rate, sporting a 22.8 percent SwStr%. However, his flyball rate of 72.2 percent is even more otherworldly. It’s nearly double the major league average of 36.7 percent. Not only is Hader letting the ball get lofted, but hitters are making a lot of hard contact on those airborne balls, averaging 97.4 mph in exit velocity (per Baseball Savant). As he accumulates more innings, this could become a real problem barring some serious regression, even with his healthy whiff rate.
Read the rest of this entry »