Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Ryan Yarbrough

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 4: Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on May 4, 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 4: Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on May 4, 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /

On Monday, June 11, the Blue Jays begin a short three-game road trip in Tampa Bay. The Rays will send Ryan Yarbrough to the mound and the Blue Jays will counter with Sam Gaviglio.

The Rays don’t have a true 5-man rotation anymore. At the start of the season, they announced that they would run the season with a four-man rotation. However, with the introduction of the baseball travesty that is “the opener”, the Rays list eleven bullpen arms and just two starters on their online depth chart.

Ryan Yarbrough is a member of the long list of bullpen arms in St. Petersburg. Despite his official bullpen arm status, the left-hander has logged a large workload. For example, in the month of May, he never appeared in a game for less than five innings. However, just two of the six appearances were starts. Often the left-hander came into the game after the first or second inning. In fact, the Blue Jays managed just one hit and no earned runs in five innings of relief against the lefty in early May.

The left-hander was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners. However, the AL West leaders shipped the young pitcher to the Rays as part of a package for another young pitcher, Drew Smyly.

The big lefty began his season in triple-A last year but broke camp with the Rays this year. In his rookie season, the left-handed hurler has posted a 4-2 record, 3.68 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.227 WHIP, and 108 ERA+ in 58 2/3 innings pitched.

Yarbrough has a simple mix of pitch offerings. The left-hander will mix fairly evenly between a four-seam fastball, cutter, and change-up. As well, he will offer up an occasional slider—but the breaking ball is used much less.

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The four-seam fastball has been used by the rookie 32.2% of the time, averaging a poor velocity of 90.21 mph. The heater has been hit hard, producing line drives at a rate of 30.23% of balls in play. Even worse, he has allowed a terrible four home runs, .655 SLGA, and .309 ISO against the four-seamer. Unsurprisingly, the fastball has the lowest value in his repertoire, posting a miserable -5.6 wFB.

The left-hander uses his cutter just a little less than the four-seamer, posting a use rate of 32.1%. The cutter averages a velocity of 88.17 mph with minimal glove sidecut. The cutter has been unhittable this year, posting a .156 BAA. Indicative of its dominance, the cut-fastball has been worth a great 9.8 wCT—by far the best pitch value of his four offerings.

Yarbrough has changed speeds on batters 27.2% of the time this season. The off-speed pitch maintains an average velocity of 82.38 mph. Interestingly, the change has been responsible for the most strikeouts, punching out 17 opposing batters. As well, the change has allowed a good .111 ISOA.

The big lefty completes his offerings with a slider just 8.18% of the time. The slider is quite slow, averaging a velocity of 79.66 mph—even slower than his change-up, curiously. Interestingly, when the lefty has two strikes against left-handed batters, the slider has been used 42% of the time. However, in the same situation against righties, the breaking ball has been used just 3% of the time. Despite its low use rate, the pitch has allowed two home runs.

Yarbrough has produced an extreme fly ball rate in his young career, currently sitting at 39.5%. However, during his minor league career, he was never much of a fly ball pitcher, relying instead on ground balls.

Despite relying on fly ball outs, the left-hander has avoided home runs well this season. Currently, his HR/9 sits at a good 1.07, and his HR/FB rate, 10.3%, suggests this is very sustainable. In total, the former fourth-round pick has allowed seven home runs.

Next: Blue Jays claim RHP Preston Guilmet

In their last try against Yarbrough, the Blue Jays struggled. However, the team may be able to ride the hit parade they began Sunday afternoon and jump on the rookie early. Nothing that the lefty offers is overpowering. The team will also look for another addition in the surprising string of strong starts from Sam Gaviglio.