Tampa Bay Rays: Top 8 Candidates for 2020 Rotation
By Seth Carter
5. Yonny Chirinos
Yonny Chirinos is currently projected by MLB.com as the Rays’ number five starting pitcher, and rightfully so. Chirinos was worth a 2.3 rWAR last season, going 9-5 with a 3.85 ERA in 18 starts.
Yonny was not a highly sought after prospect as he signed with the Rays for $100,000 at the age of 18 out of Venezuela.
In 2017 he was named the Rays’ minor league pitcher of the year as he made 27 appearances between AA-Montgomery and AAA-Durham. Yonny pitched in 168.1 innings, posting a 2.73 ERA.
In his two major-league seasons with the Rays, Yonny has posted a 116 ERA+ with a total ERA of 3.71. His first season in a Rays uniform he put up a 3.51 ERA in 89.2 innings pitched.
Chirinos pitches to contact rather than trying to strike everyone out. In 223 major league innings, he has 189 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP.
Yonny walked only 1.9 batters per nine last season. Not allowing free passes and trusting the Rays’ exceptional defensive players to make plays is a recipe for success for Yonny Chirinos.
What makes it work for Yonny?
He was in the 70th percentile in hard-hit percentage among pitchers and 62nd percentile in average exit velocity.
He keeps hard hits to a minimum with his 95mph sinker with a 20-inch drop. Yonny relied on the sinker for 55% of his pitches last season. It’s hard to hit and he knows where it’s going.
Last season Chirinos had the 18th best walk percentage of pitchers with a minimum of 100 IP.
Yonny is projected by Steamer to pitch 135 innings and post a 4.27 ERA this season.
Will Yonny break camp as the fourth or fifth starter? He’s got a proven track record going all the way back to the minor leagues. Will he outduel the player on the next slide?