According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Cardinals signed former-Astro Luke Gregerson to a two year deal with an option for a third. Gregerson was once a Cardinals farmhand, so the fact that he was traded in one of Mo’s worst deals is an interesting story, and if you’re interested in that Derrick Goold has a good recap.
I’m more interested in starting to understand Gregerson’s repertoire, usage rates, and splits.
Gregerson is predominantly a sinker-slider pitcher. Of the 1,056 pitches tracked by Brook’s Baseball in 2017, over 90% of them were sinkers or sliders. His slider averages just of 82 miles-per-hour with 4.76 inches of glove-side movement. His sinker averaged just over 90 miles-per-hour with 5.31 inches of arm-side movement.
Seung Hwan Oh’s slider averaged less than an inch of glove-side movement in 2017. While Oh has the velocity advantage, Gregerson’s offerings have far more movement.
Where can Gregerson improve?
In the Astro’s playoff run, their bullpen struggled. Their ERA was 4.13, but that seems lower than I remember. In any event, Gregerson didn’t contribute to their bullpen issues. On one hand, he didn’t struggle. He made five appearances which covered 3 2/3 innings, struck out five, and walked two. On the other hand, despite the struggles of Ken Giles, Chris Devenski, Joe Musgrove, and Brad Peacock, A.J. Hinch didn’t give Gregerson a chance in an expanded role. That’s a red flag.
Granted, Gregorson struggled in the regular season. In 61 innings, he allowed a 4.57 ERA. While xFip suggests he suffered from some bad luck (3.45), it was the third consecutive year of increases in ERA, FIP, xFIP.
One stat that suggests Gregerson is due for improvement is his HR/FB rates. While he was with the Padres and Athletics, his HR/FB rates peaked at 11% and were sometimes as low as 4%. When he signed with the Astros, he saw moderate increases in the percentages of flyballs leaving the park, which were 13.2 and 13.9, respectively. That’s not unexpected since he went from two extremely pitcher-friendly parks, PETCO and O.co Coliseum, to a launching pad in Minute Maid. Last year, his HR/FB rate doubled to over 26% (!!). I understand that home runs spiked across baseball in 2017, but I expect Gregerson to allow fewer homers because he’s moving to a more pitcher-friendly park and simple regression to the mean.
Gregerson’s usefulness, in my view, will depend on how he’s used. Let’s break him down into a view useful categories (stats courtesy of Fangraphs).
Versus Left: .242/.308/.495
Versus Right: .264/.316/.466
Those stats confirm what I originally suspected. Gregerson is capable of getting both lefties and righties out to at least a moderate degree of success. Additionally, he’s not the stopper he was in San Diego or Oakland. If GirschMo thinks adding the 33-year-old Gregerson will inject new life into a bullpen whose best option on the roster right now is Tyler Lyons, they are sadly mistaken.
I don’t think that’s the case though. Gregerson is someone capable of bridging the gap to the seventh and eighth innings horses, whoever said horses end up being. Maybe they’re Sandy Alcantara and Alex Reyes. More likely they come from outside the organization. Regardless, the Cardinals came into the offseason needing to add three relievers. Today they checked filled one of three spots. If the next two relievers added aren’t better than Gregerson, the front office hasn’t done a good enough job of addressing the bullpen.
Thanks for reading.