Brewer Spotlight

Alex Claudio Is Better Than You Know

The Brewers acquired Alex Claudio in a trade with The Rangers. Milwaukee gave up a ‘Competitive Balance Round A’ Draft Pick (Per T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com). These types of picks are given to the 10 lowest-revenue clubs each year (i.e. the smallest markets). David Stearns turned and used this “extra” pick to trade for the 26-year-old Claudio. The young GM recognized the risks are outweighed by the potential rewards:

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Claudio was The Rangers’ Pitcher of the Year two years ago but he could not replicate his success in 2018. In the quote, Stearns suggests that his “down year” was not due to a lack of skill. Let’s see if the numbers support that…

The Stats:

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Innings Pitched: Very limited date in first two years; let’s focus on the last three

Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA): One of the best single metrics we have to measure a pitcher’s underlying skill level. Think of it as an ERA on steroids. His career mark of 3.24 puts him in ‘great’ territory, per Fangraphs:

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Rate Stats: Claudio is not your typical overpowering reliever (last year finished with 5.4K/9). Instead, he gets his outs in other ways.

Ball-In Play Stats: Ground Ball (GB), Line Drive (LD), Infield-Fly Ball (IFFB), and Fly Ball (FB) percentages. When charted they appear as follows:

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He clearly is a ground ball (GB) pitcher and over his career he gets them a whopping 62.5% of the time. To put that in perspective, a 55% GB rate will usually put you near the league lead.

Home Runs per Fly Ball (HR / FB): The last two years are probably most indicative of what will be sustainable moving forward. And last year his rate here was 10.5 – 14th in the league!

Claudio excels in the statistics that reflect control & deception. This is a nice contrast to add to the jet-fueled arms already in the bullpen.

Walks + Hits / Inning Pitched (WHIP): This is the head scratcher and seems to expose what Stearns mentioned above. The jump in his WHIP (1.04 to 1.52) is not consistent with the numbers that we have reviewed. It is tough to explain this with any deficiency in Claudio’s performance. Instead, he seemed to simply have an “unlucky year.” The stats seem to suggest that he should settle somewhere near his career mark (1.26)… but only time will tell.

The guy clearly has potential… If we look at The Brewers 2019 Pitching Staff and rank them all based on Quality of Pitch (QOP/QOPA), AC rises to number one (!):

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SUMMARY

Alex Claudio is a nice addition to The Brewer’s already elite bullpen. A disciplined lefty that forces a massive amount of ground balls. He is a three pitch guy (55% Fastball, 30% Change-up, 15% Slider) and gets outs by keeping hitters off-balance. Last year, he exhibited better command than anyone The Brewers have on their staff.

With an average fastball clocking in around 86 mph, he must use deception and movement to keep hitters on their heels. He forces a lot of ‘less than optimal’ contact and will nicely complement the right-handed, power pitching bullpen of The Crew.

Once again, it seems that Stearns has sneakily filled a Brewer need with under-rated talent.

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