On Monday night, the A's had their first big league debut of 2016. With a tired bullpen and a wonky week of scheduling, the A's called on right handed pitcher Andrew Triggs to face the always treacherous Tiger lineup. The rookie pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning, inducing a strikeout in front of pleased friends and family. It was one of the more interesting innings of the season and not just because it was his debut. Andrew Triggs looked almost entirely unique.
Just how rare is Triggs' release point?
Andrew Triggs release point is quite literally off the charts.
In GIF form, it looks like this.
If you prefer some HD video, click here.
Triggs is essentially as extreme as it gets in terms of horizontal release point from a righty. Since PitchF/X data was made available to us in 2008, there have only been 1,134 pitches thrown beyond four feet to the right side of the rubber. In Triggs debut against the Tigers, seven of his 14 pitches were thrown at the four foot mark or beyond, with the other seven sitting just inside that mark.
We are working with a terribly tiny sample here, so caveats are in order. Release point should stabalize quickly though, and through one appearance Triggs has already ranks 16th in total pitches thrown from that spot. I think it's a pretty good bet that Triggs' release point will sit somewhere right around the four foot mark consistently.
There are 27 total pitchers who have thrown a pitch at the four foot mark or further to the right of the rubber. Some of those are one off cases, similar to when Rich Hill drops his arm slot occasionally. Of the 27 pitchers who have thrown a single pitch released from a point four feet to the right of the rubber, only six have thrown it more than 3% of the time. Is there anyone in baseball like Triggs right now?
|Number of pitches >= 4'
|% of pitches >=4'
Wassermann has been out of the league for eight years, Eppley for three, Delaney for four. All three were similar pitchers in terms of movement, velocity, and of course release point. The first two saw mild success in the league, but all three are now out of baseball.
Carter Capps is a complete and utter freak, so we can count him out. You should probably spend some time watching him pitch because he's awesome and insane with some of the best stuff in baseball, but he's in a different category than Triggs since his odd release point is more a function of his insane delivery. He's out of baseball for the year to have Tommy John Surgery anyway, or to join the X-Men
That leaves us with Louis Coleman as the only pitcher with a release point similar to Triggs left in baseball, and his career is a pretty reasonable target for what we can hope for out of the A's pitcher. Coleman was excellent in 2011, decent but homerun happy in 2012, and dominant in 2013 before fading in 2014 thanks to shaky command, likely due to inconsistencies in his release point. He's currently trying to re-find his stuff in the Dodgers pen with little success thus far.
Coleman is in the National League meaning Triggs, presuming he makes his way back to the A's, will be the only pitcher in the American League with that release point. He's truly one of a kind, at least in the American League.
One more thought on Triggs
Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs took a look at Triggs, on of his favorite waiver claims. Per usual, Sullivan gave some fantastic analysis and I highly recommend reading the whole piece, but there was something that stuck out to me.
"Triggs took over as the closer, getting shorter assignments, and where before he had nine walks and 27 strikeouts, afterward he had two walks and 43 strikeouts. His pitches per appearance were cut in half, and he responded by throwing more strikes and becoming overall less hittable. Triggs was pretty good early, but over his last 32 outings, he gave up four runs. He allowed four doubles, no triples, and no homers. It's true that Triggs was a 26-year-old repeating Double-A, but mastery is mastery."
Sullivan makes a great point here, one that's probably true of most players but still a very interesting one, especially with the A's current need. Triggs really took off once he became a shorter stint pitcher, when his outings went from around 3 innings per appearance to just one. So Triggs is a lot more effective as a single inning guy. Cool.
That's an endorsement of using him in shorter outings, but it excites me for the opposite reason. Even if he is better in shorter appearances - and again, who isn't- he has the ability to pitch longer, something the A's could desperately use.
Now the A's probably need a true long reliever at some point, and Triggs is not a long reliever. Still, any ability to pitch longer than a single inning would help. He could be like a slightly more durable Ryan Dull, a guy you can count on with a two run lead in the seventh or to eat innings when your ace unexpectedly can't go more than two innings. Just a thought.
Andrew Triggs has my attention for a variety of reasons. He's essentially unique in baseball and after a year where the A's couldn't find production out of their best relievers, they might have an effective pitcher squeezed out of a roster spot by a bullpen that's too good. Of course, Triggs could be like a Delaney or an Eppley or even a Pat Venditte, a guy with a weird quirk who ultimately isn't a good pitcher. But the possibility is there, the depth is exciting, and Andrew Triggs is just one more storyline to follow on this already riveting team.