Ryan Yarbrough leads major league relievers in innings pitched the past two seasons. Even if you filter out the games in which he appeared as the starter Yarbrough leads the pack. That makes sense since he still pitched a starter’s workload for Tampa Bay following an opener. Oakland’s own Yusmeiro Petit is second to Yarbrough in relief innings the past two seasons. You may not have known that. I certainly didn’t. Nevertheless, with 144 innings pitched since the start of 2018, Petit has been one of baseball’s most effective middle relievers.
As far as innings totals go you would expect to see high-leverage firemen such as Josh Hader or Archie Bradley - pitchers capable of multi-inning stints - high on that list. They are. Also swing-man Jesse Chavez and mop-up guy Miguel Castro are near the top. Petit bests them all.
When looking at appearances only left specialist Andrew Chafin and Cubs righty Steve Cishek have more than Petit. He’s pitching more games the past two seasons than elite set-up men Ryan Pressley and Adam Ottavino. And he’s pitched in that many games and innings to the tune of a 2.81 ERA, 27th in baseball. He’s 17th in that regard among relievers with at least 100 innings the past two seasons.
Recently that success has put Petit in position to earn high-leverage appearances, posting 8 holds and 2 wins since June 1st. With Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino struggling Petit has been thrust into set-up duty. Is he someone the A’s can trust moving forward?
This is Petit’s fifth season being used exclusively as a reliever. He’s been quite good as a middle reliever in that time, but has never posted an ERA as low as his current 2.47. And the more advanced metrics aren’t buying his success.
Petit doesn’t strike too many batters out (just 21.5 K%). He also doesn’t walk many (3.1 BB%). He does allow home runs at a generous rate (1.41 HR/9). And that explains the 3.99 FIP and 4.79 xFIP. That home run rate is the highest mark since 2016, which isn’t surprising since he’s allowing flyballs 53% of the time.
Unlike bullpen-mate Liam Hendriks, Petit doesn’t exactly suppress hard-contact. At 93.1 MPH his average exit velocity allowed on balls in the air is 103rd among the 239 pitchers who have allowed at least 50 flyballs and line drives. This worrisome for a pitcher in this homer-happy environment.
I do not expect Petit to keep pitching this well. An ERA closer to 4, as his FIP suggests, seems about right. Which means he’s not the most trustworthy back-end bullpen arm. Nevertheless, his demonstrated ability to throw multiple innings per appearance certainly has value in this matchup-driven era that sees starting pitchers throwing fewer and fewer innings each day.
What do you think?
Do you trust Yusmeiro Petit in the later innings?
This poll is closed
Ask me again later.