If things went well for Adam Ottavino in the sixth inning of Thursday’s matinee, this article would have been very different. Last Friday I took some time to highlight how well Chad Green has pitched in 2020, and my plan was to do the same today with Otto.
Every New York Yankee fan knows that Ottavino can be downright special when he’s on his game. He has some of the nastiest stuff in the majors, and he can make hitters look silly with his sinker/slider combination. Prior to his outing Thursday, his numbers for the 2020 season were extraordinary:
There was nothing lucky about Ottavino’s stellar 2020 stats. He was pitching like the premier pitcher we all know he can be, which is why his expected numbers from Statcast were also very impressive:
OTTAVINO’S EXPECTED STATS THROUGH AUG. 19:
.137 xBA (Top 3% of League)
.203 xSLG (Top 2% of League)
.244 xwOBA (Top 10% of League)
2.32 xERA (Top 13% of League)
AN OUTING TO FORGET
Like every other great relief pitcher, Ottavino can have a bad day. That’s what happened Thursday afternoon when he gave up a leadoff double down the line, a five-pitch walk, and a bloop single into shallow left. His final line for the game of 0.2 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, and 3 earned runs looks ugly.
To make matters worse, Ottavino’s abysmal outing proved to be a critical factor in the Yankees’ loss. Instead of breaking up the Tampa Bay Rays’ sweep bid, the Bronx Bombers fell for the third time in as many games against their division rival. Their record against the Rays now sits at 1-6. While the Yanks are practically a shoo-in for the playoffs in light of the new format, it’s still important to win games against good teams like the Rays during the regular season. It’s unfortunate that Ottavino didn’t have his stuff Thursday, especially since he had been so good in 2020.
IT’S ONLY ONE GAME
Whenever the Yankees struggle, it feels like the sky is falling in the Bronx. There’s no reason to think that Ottavino’s performance Thursday is a harbinger of more bad things to come. I’m sure that Thursday’s outing was simply a blip on the radar, and that we’ll get good Otto next time he toes the rubber. With Tommy Kahnle out for the season and Zack Britton on the IL with a hamstring injury, Otto will be vital in the Yankees’ pitching formula.