As most of you know, Jonny Venters is not having his best season. He had a great first month, then the wheels fell off before hitting the DL last week. Many have blamed the struggles on the “enormous” workload the past couple seasons. However, I feel like luck is almost the whole culprit of the regression.
Here are Venters’ main peripherals the past 3 seasons:
As you can see, there is no indication of poor performance this year. There are a couple stats that do show the disparity in success. Home runs have suddenly become a problem, allowing six this year after allowing three the first two seasons. As shown above, he’s not allowing more flyballs, so his HR/FB% has skyrocketed to an insane 42.9%, about four times the league average. Using xFIP, which sets everyone’s HR/FB% to league average, Venters has a 3.08 mark, just a touch below previous years.
The other main reason for the poor ERA is a .422 BABIP allowed, after posting .287 and .242 figures the previous two seasons. He has allowed a 23% line drive rate, about 9% higher than 2010-11, and line drives are hits 70-75% of the time. Groundballs are also leaking through the infield more often, with the BABIP increasing from .220 to .350. These heat maps show his sinker’s location, with this year’s plot against righties much further inside than past years. While there is a good chance balls are being hit harder this year, the higher LD%, and especially the HR/FB%, indicate a lot of poor luck.
As far as stuff goes, Venters’ sinker is not much worse, showing similar movement with the average velocity dipping from 95 to 94. Pitch linear weights has the pitch 9.3 runs below average. From the outside, his slider has shown more problems, down half a tick, but more importantly losing an inch of depth. He has also introduced a changeup about 7% of the time, showing good movement but iffy results.
Overuse last year is a common excuse for Venters, though Kimbrel has done even better so far this year. His peripherals have maintained constant from the last two seasons, meaning his talent level isn’t much worse. His stuff is a bit worse than last year, though he still owns one of the best sinkers and sliders. He’s probably just suffered from some location problems and a lot of poor luck.