Tampa Bay Rays: Jalen Beeks is changing it up in 2019

Jalen Beeks has been fantastic out of the pen for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019 thanks to some added deception and a change in his tendencies.

Since coming over to the Tampa Bay Rays at last season’s trade deadline, Jalen Beeks has been a major part of Kevin Cash’s plans. Totaling 76.1 IP since July 28th of last season, Beeks has provided the Rays with valuable innings as a “bulk” pitcher.

Across 50.2 total innings with the Red Sox and Rays last season, Beeks posted a 5.51 ERA, 4.64 FIP, and an 77 ERA+. Fast forward a season and Beeks has cut his earned run average in half while improving in nearly every statistical category.

How has he done it? Maybe, the 23 year old lefty attributes his newfound success to a slight change in his delivery…

Or, maybe his dominance on the mound is due to an added reliance on one of his pitches, namely his changeup. He has gone to his changeup early and often this season, throwing it 15% more than he did last season.

Take a look at how his pitch usage has changed since last season:

Pitch Usage (2018/2019):

Fastball: 42% // 46%

Changeup: 18% // 33%

Curveball” 18% // 15%

Cutter: 20% // 4%

Beeks has almost completely moved away from his cutter and instead pivoted towards his changeup. In 2018, Beeks threw 880 pitches, 162 of them were changeups. In 2019, Beeks has only thrown 523 pitches, but has already thrown 14 more changeups (176).

But there’s more… He isn’t just throwing the change piece more often but he is throwing it to left handed hitters more often as well. Last season, Beeks only threw 2 changeups to left handed hitters, in 2019 he has already thrown 41!

He has surely found something new in his changeup because it has become a truly devastating pitch against left handed hitters.

LHH vs Beeks’ Changeup: 41 Total Pitches 

AVG: .000

K%: 30.8%

Whiff%: 30%

PutAway%: 25%

While the storyline may be his new willingness to throw it versus left handed hitters, right handed hitters haven’t been too successful against his changeup either in 2019, much less successful than they were against it in 2018.

RHH vs Beeks’ Changeup (2018 // 2019): 120 // 135 pitches 

AVG: .261 // .220

SLG: .283 // .317

K%: 18.4% // 26.2%

Whiff%: 37.2% // 29.8%

PutAway%: 18% // 23.4%

Remember when I said that Beeks has improved in almost every statistical category this season? Well, he has. His ERA, FIP, WHIP, BB/9, H/9 and HR/9 are all down from 2018 while his ERA+, K/9, K/BB are up. Take a look at the difference:

Jalen Beeks’ Numbers (2018 // 2019):

IP: 50.2 // 32.0

ERA: 5.51 // 2.25

FIP: 4.64 // 2.68

WHIP: 1.500 // 1.188

ERA+: 77 // 192

K/9: 7.5 // 9.3

BB/9: 4.3 // 2.8

H/9: 9.2 // 7.9

HR/9: 1.1 // .3

K/BB: 1.75 // 3.30

In terms of a sophomore campaign, the Rays couldn’t have asked for much more from Beeks. He has improved and adapted to Major League hitters by adding a hitch in his delivery and changing up his repertoire. The results speak for themselves as he has induced weak contact 7.9% of the time in 2019, up from 3.2% in 2018.

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What the future holds for Beeks is unknown due to Glasnow’s absence, but I’m sure that he will shoulder a considerable load along with Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough, that is if the Rays choose not to add a starter prior to his return.