Jose Perios entered 2022 as a model for consistency, but this year he was the most inconsistent player on the Toronto Blue Jays.
While it’s easy to understate the amount of volatility baked into the performance of elite players, the right-handed season has been full of fun by all accounts.
Often this description is just cliched. In the case of Piraeus, it’s as good a metaphor as you’ll find – as shown by his five-game rolling era (with the 2021 season providing a solid reference point):
Most of the intense rallies are to the upside, which indicates its all-season ERA is at 5.07. He’s had some vigorous stretching, too.
The right-handed season included moments of brilliance to match the failures. For example, he hit a career high in strikes on June 4, then met her on July 12. He was also a top 10 player of the tournament by both innings (36) and strike (42) in July.
Time and time again, he seemed to turn the corner with new tweaks, from release point changes to pitch mix tweaks, only to land on the ground. In recent days, the Prius has begun another experiment.
On his second start in September, the 28-year-old threw his change up at a higher rate than ever. On each of those trips, he used it at least 29 percent of the time — an unprecedented number for him that leads to a monthly usage chart that looks like this:
The results were solid (12.1 innings from 2.19 Era balls), but the sample is far too small to tell how this would turn out. However, the theory behind it is interesting.
First, it should be noted that the presentation is not – in and of itself – a dominant one. Berrios’ change has +3 run value in his career, opponents hit .241 and knocked out .410. Its movement is standard both vertically (2% above average) and horizontally (1% above average).
There’s a reason the pitch show experience took so long. Neither the movement of change nor the successes of the hitters against her suggest he should top the 28-year-old’s arsenal.
Despite its shortcomings in the void, Prius’ changeover could be of great value in the context of opening day debut struggles.
Perhaps his biggest problem was the way the four-stitch quick ball was mashed up. Opponents hit .357 and hit 0.649 outside of it, I tied the Statcast playback value to Sixth worst stadium in baseball.
It’s possible that his increased use of change could make this fast-paced game better than his other method of offering. Both his broken ball and drill have a ton of horizontal motion that makes them both drill really well with each other…
…but neither is easily confused with respect to the vertically oriented four-way tailor in the road. The ideal pitch to pair with this pitch is a large curve from 12 to 6, but a change can do the job:
At this point, the Berrios sample burdening the change is too small to tell if it will have the desired effect on his heater. The rivals are 3-7 on that court in the last two games, but it will be interesting to see if that changes if he continues with this approach.
Among Mark Buehrle, Marco Estrada and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Blue Jays have had a number of starters seeing their fastballs perform better due to the heavy use of change. Berrios doesn’t have a change to match this trio, but these bowlers are notable examples of how this non-quick pitch affects fastball performance.
Another reason Piraeus might be playing around with a change-focused approach is the difficulty he’s had with left-handed hitters. Over the past two seasons, the left hit 0.273/.330/.498 against the veteran.
Over the same time period, left-handed hitters hit 0.232 and hit 0.333 against his shift, and their whiff rate against them ranged between 22 and 30 percent each year of their career. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a crush ball, but it does catch a nice ball that just falls out of reach from time to time.
Over his last two engagements, he has used this pitch with left-handed hitters 41.6 percent of the time, and it worked because they hit 0.188 of it without an additional base hit. It’s a small sample, but it’s clearly a fresh attack plan considering he’s never used it against the left averaging more than 27 percent in any other month of his career.
Right now what we’re seeing from Berrios is a one-in-a-line mod. It’s too early to tell if it will ever end.
What we can say with confidence is that its latest modification aims to address some of its biggest weaknesses in a logical way.