You know Tampa Bay Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough was good, but do you know how good he was last season?
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough appeared to have made the transition from bulk guy to starting pitcher last season. He was a heavy favorite heading into 2020’s spring training at taking one of the rotation spots behind Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow.
We know Yarbrough was good, but when pitchers don’t have the gaudy strikeout numbers that capture the imaginations of baseball fans today, they can be overlooked.
Today we direct our stare directly at Ryan Yarbrough’s 2019 season.
- Yarbrough had the lowest K% of any starting pitcher for the Rays last season at 20.9 percent.
- Ryan Yarbrough set the single-season record for a starting pitcher in Rays history with a 0.995 WHIP.
- Despite a solid 4.13 ERA, his FIP was even better at 3.55.
- Led Rays’ starters in walk percentage with 3.2%.
Yarbrough may not be a stuff guy or get a ton of strikeouts, but he still gets the job done. He pitches to contact, but not just any contact, soft contact. He’s very good at it.
Last season he finished in the 99th percentile in hard-hit percentage and in the 100th percentile in average exit velocity.
That means that He was better than about 99% of the pitchers in the league suppressing hard-hit balls.
The average exit velocity on a Ryan Yarbrough pitch last season was just 84.1 miles per hour, which is good for the top one percent in the league.
He was second on the Rays in innings pitched last season, behind only Charlie Morton’s 194.2.
His 0.995 WHIP was not only good for best in Rays history but it was good for third-best in the American League behind only Justin Verlander (0.80) and Gerrit Cole (0.89), who finished first and second in the Cy Young Award voting.
These numbers are incredible when you consider how bad he was to start the season. After the first month of the 2019 campaign, Yarbrough had pitched in 16.2 innings and given up 15 earned runs. He was sent down to AAA-Durham to iron out the kinks.
Once he made some adjustments, he was superb the rest of the way. From June 8th on, Yarbrough pitched in 107.0 innings, struck out 94, walked just 12, and posted a 3.45 ERA.
He returned and shifted in and out of his bulk role and a true starter. On June 23 he finally got his season ERA under 5.00.
On August 6 he made his last “bulk” appearance and would finish the season with nine consecutive starts.