Breaking Down: Our New Main Lefty

The Mets traded Keyshawn Askew to get lefty Brooks Raley as part of the Mets pen. While I expect the Rays to do big things with Askew, for the Mets it filled a major gap in their pen.

A dominant lefty was a must according to a lot of fans and with acquiring the 34 year left hander, the Mets did just that. Raley is coming of a great year with the Rays (of course, he did), pitching to a 2.68 ERA over 53.2 innings.

Raley doesn’t rely on velo, but does rely a lot on movement. With his movement, Raley misses bats and misses barrels. He was in the 99th percentile in Barrel% against. But that’s not the only good thing about his game. He doesn’t allow hard hit balls, gets hitters to chase and mostly has a solid walk rate (especially for a reliever).

As you can see on his baseball savant page, he doesn’t get it done with velo. However his movement graphic is fun to look at. He mainly throws 4 pitches with his slider acting as his main pitch (38.2%). His Sinker, Change and Cutter are close to each other in usage, with using his Cutter/Change only against RH (with slider also a main pitch vs RH) and being a Sinker/Slider guy vs LH. It was usage, which clearly worked as RH’ers had a .573 OPS and lefties just a .482 OPS against Raley.

He has always been lethal against lefties, with his slider, having some of the best horizontal movement in the game with 18.5 inches of horizontal break (7.8 inches above average). That, to go with his heavy sinker (4.5 inches above average Vertical movement), you can tell how nasty he will be vs lefties, with pitches moving a lot in different direction for the hitters.

Righties were a different story before this season, and you can see the adjustments he made to be more successful. First, he used his cutter less and his change more vs RH as well as including his slider more often. His change was the biggest plus this year, as he found his movement, I mean much more movement on that pitch. He also threw it way more and the pitch was extremely successful, which in turn made him throw his cutter less, which got rocked in 2021 (.888 xOPS Against in 2021). So the pitch usage of his cutter lessened and Change increased, was a great find by Raley and the Rays.

To me, Raley is a great addition with a clear reason for recent success (especially against RH’ers). He made the adjustments to become a reliever that is able to face both RHB’s and LHB’s with success. Obviously it would be good to let him face mostly lefties, but good to see with the 3 batter rule, he found a way to dominate righties too.

Photo Credit: MLB Trade Rumors

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