Looking at Ynoa’s 2.23 ERA, most would think that he has done a great job of limiting hard hits. However, that is simply not true.
Take a look at some of the metrics from Ynoa’s baseball savant page:
- Hard Hit%- 11th percentile (48.5%)
- Average Exit Velocity- 20th percentile (91)
- xSLG- 23rd percentile (.465)
- Barrel%- 25th percentile (10.9%)
- xBA- 34th percentile (.257)
- xwOBA- 38th percentile (.330)
That is a lot of “blue” on the baseball savant page and a lot of worrisome metrics. When Ynoa gets hit, he is getting hit hard.
That is cause for some concern, because common sense tells me that eventually these hard-hit balls will eventually start falling at a higher rate. They also could lead to more damage against Ynoa.
We talked about how Ynoa is getting hit hard but somehow getting away with it. Yet, he still sports a 2.23 ERA.
However, look at his xERA, FIP, and xFIP:
- xERA: 4.34
- FIP: 3.60
- xFIP: 2.92
That is a mixed bag. Starting with the xERA, it is nearly double what Ynoa’s actual ERA is. This is due to his xwOBA (.330) is significantly higher than his wOBA (.264) which suggests that he is due for some regression. This should come as no surprised seeing the hard-hit rates in the previous section as xwOBA is calculated in part from those metrics.
xERA is not necessarily predictive, so I am by no means suggesting Ynoa’s ERA doubles anytime soon, but it does mean he is suppressing runs in a way that may not be the most sustainable.
His FIP and xFIP tell a different story, one that will get mentioned more in the next slide.
Two Pitch Mix
This is one that may not seem like a big issue, but I think could end up being a big roadblock in Ynoa’s success.
Currently Ynoa is throwing his slider 46.3% of the time and his fastball 42.2% of the time. He is throwing two pitches 88.5% of the time.
He does throw other pitches, just not as often. He throws a sinker 5.9% of the time and a changeup 5.6% of the time.
Looking at his game against the Phillies, here is the breakdown of his 92 pitches:
- Slider- 51.1% (47 pitches)
- Fastball- 42.4% (39 pitches)
- Changeup- 5.4% (5 pitches)
- Sinker- 1.1% (1 pitch)
When the slider and fastball are working like they were last night, a third pitch probably is not necessary. Ynoa certainly did not need one to get through six innings.
However, throwing only two pitches that often can lead to issues. Even though the slider is a plus plus pitch and the fastball is solid, if one pitch is not working, hitters can sit on a certain pitch like the Cubs did on April 17th.
There is some worry on his fastball though, look at these numbers:
- BA- .200
- xBA- .298
- SLG- .462
- xSLG- .576
- wOBA- .308
- xwOBA- .391
- Average Exit Velocity- 94.0
While both pitches were working well against the Phillies, Mike Petriello made a great point after Andrew McCutchen hit a leadoff home run on the first pitch of the game. He mentioned not many guys throw a first pitch slider to open the game, meaning it is probably going to be a fastball.
McCutchen had a similar thought and did not miss it.
Now this is just a case of a veteran player knowing what to look for. However, it does show what a good hitter can do when they can eliminate a pitch. If one of Ynoa’s two pitches are not working that night, it could mean trouble.
I think Ynoa would benefit from throwing a third pitch, possibly his changeup, just slightly more to keep hitters guessing. Even if he only throws it a few more times a game, around 8%-9%, it could help keep hitters off-balance.
Adding that third pitch could be exactly what Ynoa needs to take the next step to being a legitimate front-line starter.