Rays Acquire Left-Handed Reliever Dan Jennings From ChiSox | The Process Report

Rays Acquire Left-Handed Reliever Dan Jennings From ChiSox

It has been no secret that the Rays have been in on virtually any pitcher that throws baseballs with his weird arm. In the face of exorbitant asks by rivals in no real rush to move the crème de la crème the Rays had to necessarily lower their sights to get someone good enough to fill the bill without breaking the bank.

Gillaspie’s face first fall this season comes after a tremendous AAA year that saw him start to be taken seriously as a prospect. Much like Rhyne Hughes before him the Rays felt it was better to move the potential slugger to get some real help at a real need in real time. He will be missed, but it was hard to see him having a role on this team going forward with real options already in the bigs and serious competition at his level and below. Let’s get to the goods:

Jennings is having a fairly normal year as he walks a few too many, likely pitching around tougher righties, and getting around league average number of strikeouts. You can consider him a groundball getter that is showing the second best figure of his career in that regard. It is unlikely that he will continue to give up a home run once every four flyballs that he does yield, as well.

In my recent piece looking at the relief market I keyed in on performance in the 7th inning and beyond since May 1st for guys with at least 100 batters faced within those parameters. I saw him as the 190th best performer out of the 301 pitchers looked at. Here are his peers:

He has cost the White Sox around a run worse than average within these terms. He has performed about as well as the recently traded Brandon Maurer, and a good bit better than part of Maurer’s return in the form of Travis Wood. Wood is another lefty that was perhaps on the Rays radar, but it looks like they got a slightly better version. Let’s dig into the nitty gritty starting with his results on balls in play, both actual, and expected:

His actual results have looked very nice over the course of the year showing a well better than average guy. The problem is that his expectations have finally caught up after looking like he should have been getting mauled early on. That bodes well for the Rays since they have him now and not that past version, but know that a darker side lives within Jennings. All things equal you would rather have him performing well now rather than previously.

Folding walks and strikeouts in to create my park-adjusted True wOBA you can see similarly that he has improved as the season has worn on. His last 30 or so batters show someone that has been incredibly good with actuals outstripping even these great expectations. The earlier season stuff still matters, but he has been average or better for the better part of the year.

So far I have looked at Dan Jennings in totality, but the Rays will likely use him in more of a specialist role than he had seen on the Southside. To that end we can break these things out by batter handedness. Surprisingly, it looks like Jennings hasn’t been platooned at all facing roughly 2/3 righties and 1/3 lefties this year. During that time you can see the worst parts of his season were early on facing righties if not throughout. Against lefties he has been average or remarkably better all season. The Rays will be able to isolate him into these instances more often letting him get lefties with aplomb.

In addition to getting what looks like a capable lefty-neutralizer the team will have his services for an additional two years at arbitration rates beyond this present season. The Rays were able to fix a short term problem that had no long term solution by getting a guy that looks like he could be here for awhile. It only cost them a guy that they should have been looking to deal in any sort of acquisition. This looks like a big win for the Rays.

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