Orioles Bullpen: Thy Sinker

It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.

Zach Britton’s Sinker… Eh? Eh???

In fact, according to BP’s PITCHf/x Leaderboard, five of eight Baltimore Relievers had above average Sinkers last year: Zach Britton (#1 overall obviously), Darren O’Day (#17), Wesley Wright (#24), Tommy Hunter (#32) and T.J. McFarland (#39). Five of the top 40 (out of 136) relievers who used a classified Sinker over 100 times were Baltimore Orioles.

Available out of the bullpen:

Brad Brach and Ryan Webb also contained a Sinker in their arsenal, but with less success. Webb induced whiffs on the pitch about one standard deviation less than others with a Sinker while Brach had one of the worst Sinkers when it came to batting average and isolated slugging power-against.

If it wasn’t for the Sinker, Brach and his great Splitter would jump into top 60 Reliever Arsenal Score territory as it is not effective versus righties and can turn into a mistake pitch against lefties.

T.J McFarland’s Sinker is above average while the Slider is more effective getting grounders. He wound up in the top 100 (of 317) arsenal scores, but based on usage, his Fourseam and Changeup was omitted, which would kill his value.

From a fantasy baseball perspective, these guys are fodder anyway.


Britton is your saves asset. Mixing in an elite Curve (almost two standard deviations better than the average Curve from a whiff/swing perspective) obviously kept hitters off balance enough last year.

There will be some regression (based on the .215 BABIP), but an elite Sinker should keep that grounded and ensure a solid left-on-base% as well. You can find his expected BABIP toward the end of my last 2014 bullpen report. His .255 xBABIP was the third best reliever BABIP in baseball last year.

Steamer projections regressed Britton all the way back to .295. They also dropped his left-on-base% back his 2013 rate of 73% (versus 82.3% last year). The projections aren’t incorporating the pitched baseball enhancements.

Based on RotoChamps composite projections, I had Britton ranked as the 24th reliever in the “Ultimate Bullpen Guide,” but if we re-regress (positively) his ERA and WHIP back to say 2.9 and 1.19, which I think is realistic, we are talking 19th overall. Think of him around Glen Perkins and Fernando Rodney territory with a few less strikeouts.

As is, in non-hold leagues, I have Darren O’Day 41st overall. He would jump right up to Britton territory otherwise.


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Daniel Schwartz contributes for RotoGraphs when he's not selling industry leading thermal packaging. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBanter

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Brad Johnson

The Marlins bullpen also has a couple Britton types with big gb rates and good swstr%’s