Was Rostering Ranger Suárez the Correct Decision?

This past Sunday, there were just a few available middle relievers who seemed to be better additions than some starter, so my co-owner Fred Zinkie settled on Ranger Suárez. Right now, Ranger Suárez has a 0.93 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, and 8.1 K/9 and is ranked as the 52nd pitcher according to our auction calculator. While his strikeout rate isn’t the highest, he does average 1.7 IP for each appearance and accumulates 1.5 K in each of those appearances. Also, he has been able to get 3 Wins so far this season (18% Win Rate).

The other option was Giovanny Gallegos who has also been great this season (2.53 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 10.3 K/9). He’s averaged throwing 1.2 IP per appearance with 1.4 K per appearance. He’s been able to get 5 Wins during that time (14% Win Rate).

Since the pitcher was supposed to take a starter’s spot, the hope was to get good ratios, some strikeouts, and possibly vulture a Win. After historically finding pitchers with these traits, our two choices were fine with a major flaw. We ignored recent usage.

To find middle-relievers to target, I took all the relievers (GS/G <= 0.05) and grouped them by Win% (W/G). I included pitchers from 2017 to 2019 who had at least 10 appearances. Here are their average stats.

Reliever Stats Grouped by Win%
W/G WHIP gmLI W/G K/G IP/G Team Win% RH%
> 10% 1.28 1.16 12.8% 1.13 1.07 52% 79%
7.5% to 10% 1.32 1.11 8.5% 1.12 1.10 51% 74%
5% to 7.5% 1.31 1.18 6.1% 1.04 0.98 50% 76%
2.5% to 5% 1.33 1.10 3.7% 1.01 1.00 50% 68%
<2.5% 1.49 0.90 0.4% 0.99 0.99 48% 69%

Now, these stats can be massaged to get the desired number of candidates. My goal was to have around 10 choices and add that week’s best option.

I started with several other stats (including all the Leverage Index’s), but these few had distinct dropoffs and reasons to be used.

  • Team Win% >= 45%: The team needs to be competitive to get a Win
  • gmLI >= 1.1: The pitcher’s manager must have enough confidence to use the pitcher in High Leverage (i.e. close) games.
  • IP/G >= 1.0: Has average more than one inning.
  • K/G >= 1.1: Used to make sure some strikeouts are accumulated.
  • Saves/G < 25%: To remove closers since they were already rostered.

While trying to back or forward test these values, I found changing reliever usage messed with the final criteria (reason for only using 2017 to 2019 data). Here are the number of pitchers who might the above requirements each season (min 10 games) since 2020.

Not one pitcher met the thresholds a couple of decades ago with strikeout rate being the major obstacle. I’m sure the game will change in some way going forward and the above benchmarks will need to be massaged.

So, using these thresholds, here are the pitchers from 2020 and 2021 who met the requirement (min 5 G).

Relievers Who Meet the Above Requirements
Name Team Season G IP IP/G K/G gmLI Team Win% ERA WHIP Player Win%
Tyler Duffey Twins 2020 22 24.0 1.09 1.41 1.61 60.0% 1.88 0.79 4.5%
Chad Green Yankees 2020 22 25.2 1.15 1.45 1.33 55.0% 3.51 0.82 13.6%
Lucas Sims Reds 2020 20 25.2 1.26 1.70 1.37 51.7% 2.45 0.94 15.0%
Dennis Santana Dodgers 2020 12 17.0 1.42 1.50 1.17 71.7% 5.29 1.29 8.3%
Jalen Beeks Rays 2020 12 19.1 1.59 2.17 1.29 66.7% 3.26 1.29 8.3%
Jake Diekman Athletics 2020 21 21.1 1.00 1.48 1.51 60.0% 0.42 0.94 9.5%
Yimi Garcia Marlins 2020 14 15.0 1.07 1.36 1.14 51.7% 0.60 0.93 21.4%
Genesis Cabrera Cardinals 2020 19 22.1 1.16 1.68 1.18 51.7% 2.42 1.16 21.1%
Devin Williams Brewers 2020 22 27.0 1.23 2.41 1.48 48.3% 0.33 0.63 18.2%
Anthony Kay Blue Jays 2020 13 21.0 1.62 1.69 1.38 53.3% 5.14 1.71 15.4%
Codi Heuer White Sox 2020 21 23.2 1.10 1.19 1.21 58.3% 1.52 0.89 14.3%
Andre Scrubb Astros 2020 20 23.2 1.16 1.20 1.20 48.3% 1.90 1.48 5.0%
Nivaldo Rodriguez Astros 2020 5 8.2 1.64 1.60 1.25 48.3% 6.23 2.42 0.0%
Matt Andriese Red Sox 2021 24 36.0 1.50 1.54 1.20 62.2% 5.25 1.67 8.3%
Ryan Tepera Cubs 2021 37 37.2 1.01 1.11 1.55 51.9% 3.35 0.82 0.0%
Chad Green Yankees 2021 32 40.0 1.25 1.25 1.63 51.3% 2.48 0.80 6.3%
Mike Mayers Angels 2021 38 38.2 1.01 1.45 1.34 48.8% 4.42 1.42 5.3%
Brent Suter Brewers 2021 31 40.0 1.29 1.32 1.30 59.8% 3.38 1.35 25.8%
Daniel Hudson Nationals 2021 23 24.1 1.05 1.52 1.53 50.6% 2.59 0.90 17.4%
Paul Sewald Mariners 2021 21 21.2 1.01 1.81 1.29 52.4% 1.66 1.02 23.8%
Giovanny Gallegos Cardinals 2021 35 42.2 1.21 1.40 1.48 48.8% 2.53 0.70 14.3%
Drew Steckenrider Mariners 2021 26 30.0 1.15 1.19 1.13 52.4% 2.40 1.03 7.7%
Jonathan Loaisiga Yankees 2021 33 42.2 1.28 1.18 1.77 51.3% 2.32 0.98 21.2%
Ranger Suarez Phillies 2021 17 29.0 1.71 1.53 1.13 47.4% 0.93 0.72 17.6%
Jeffrey Springs Rays 2021 33 34.1 1.03 1.36 1.33 58.0% 3.15 1.08 12.1%
Dominic Leone Giants 2021 13 13.1 1.01 1.23 1.34 62.5% 1.35 0.83 7.7%
Sam Coonrod Phillies 2021 27 28.0 1.04 1.11 1.37 47.4% 4.18 1.29 3.7%
Genesis Cabrera Cardinals 2021 37 37.1 1.00 1.16 1.35 48.8% 2.65 1.26 2.7%
Tejay Antone Reds 2021 22 33.2 1.51 1.91 1.99 50.0% 1.60 0.83 9.1%
Garrett Crochet White Sox 2021 24 24.2 1.01 1.29 1.34 60.0% 2.92 1.50 8.3%
Mitch White Dodgers 2021 12 14.1 1.18 1.17 1.19 61.7% 3.77 1.60 0.0%
Average 1.22 1.46 1.37 54.5% 2.77 1.13 11.2%
2020 and 2021

By per luck, both Suarez and Gallegos meet the statistical requirements. The one issue that wasn’t meant was their usage. Both threw on Saturday, and other middle-reliever should have been cheaply rostered as a fill-in.  The workload in the previous few games needs to be monitored.

Also, the upcoming schedule needs to be checked for maximum games. The two initial options had seven upcoming games with Gallegos having four of those games in Colorado (three runs allowed in his first Colorado appearance). Probably a better option would have been one of the Yankees (vs LAA, NYM) with seven upcoming games and they didn’t throw on Saturday or Sunday.

Finally, use some common sense. Just because a pitcher meets the requirements, make sure they are still being used in high-leverage situations. Also, make sure there hasn’t been any talent degradation (e.g. velocity loss).

And that’s how I’ll start finding the pitcher subset when I’m wanting to add a middle reliever. The filters help to find the talent and high-leverage usage. The past usage and potential future usage are the only other variables to consider.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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srpst23
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srpst23

Very logical, thanks for this.