Boxberger Adds Familiar Depth To Pen
Brad Boxberger is one of the two players with major league experience the Rays are reportedly getting in return for Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn. While he is a new name, his skill set contains many tendencies already present in the Rays’ bullpen.
Boxberger’s primary pitch is 91-94mph fastball, which sets up a very good changeup that has around 10mph of separation from his fastball with good late fade to it. He uses those two pitches, along with a breaking ball and bit of a deceptive delivery to attack batters. All of this was on display in this video from earlier in 2013. The changeup has been particularly effective for him as batters have just a .237 wOBA against the pitch.
Because Boxberger features a changeup as his secondary pitch, he, like Joel Peralta, has more success against left-handed batters. Over the past three seasons in the minor leagues, Boxberger has faced 299 left-handed batters and has held them to a .191/.294/.280 slash line, striking out 102, walking 38, and allowing only 3 home runs. He has faced only 93 left-handed batters in his limited time with the Padres, but struck out 28 of them and limiting them to a .215/.308/.380 slash line.
Boxberger was more effective against right-handed batters in the minors than he has been thus far at the major league level. He held them to a .215/.279/.322 slash line in the minors from 2011-2013 over 363 plate appearances, striking out 142 while walking 28 and allowing 4 home runs. The 121 right-handed batters he has faced as a major leaguer have fared better hitting .250/.383/.406 against him, striking out 29 times while walking 21 times.
Boxberger does have an option remaining, which helps gives the Rays some needed flexibility. The current bullpen depth chart mostly includes players that are out of options in Heath Bell, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Joel Peralta, Josh Lueke, Jake McGee, Pedro Figueroa, and Cesar Ramos. That means in order for Boxberger to make the major league roster, something will have to give during camp in Port Charlotte. ZiPS projects him with 86 strikeouts in 72 innings of work, with a 3.25 ERA and 118 ERA+. Conversely, ZiPS projects Alex Torres slightly worse.