The Blue Jays bolstered their relief depth today with the signing of former White Sox reliever, Jake Petricka, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo:
Source: Blue Jays in agreement with reliever Jake Petricka on minor-league deal. He'll get $1.3M if he makes the majors, $500k in incentives.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 8, 2018
From 2013-2015, his first few seasons in the league, Petricka was a very useful reliever for Chicago; he even served as the team’s closer for a brief spell during that time. The 6’5″ RHP posted a 3.24 ERA across 144 1/3 innings in 145 outings. He didn’t strike many people out (98) and had an issue with walks (61), but relied on a hard, heavy sinker that can touch the upper 90s to generate groundballs at extreme rates.
Petricka’s groundball rates during those three seasons were 62.9%, 63.4%, and 65.2%, respectively, for an overall groundball rate of 64.0%. That placed him fifth in all of baseball during that span, behind only Zach Britton, Brad Ziegler, Sam Dyson (Bautista with a Drive…), and lefty specialist Javier Lopez. In short, his ability to keep the on the ground was among the super elite. As a corollary to that specific skillset, he was also quite stingy with home runs, with his 0.31 HR/9 rate once again placing him fifth in baseball (tied).
Unfortunately, injuries started to pop up for Petricka starting in 2016, and he has only thrown 33 2/3 innings over the last two years, with horrible numbers and a complete loss of ability to keep the ball in the yard (1.9 HR/9). The hope is that his recent elbow surgery – nerve transposition surgery – has corrected these issues and that he can return to the highly useful reliever that he used to be.
At worst, the Blue Jays have signed a formerly solid pitcher to a minor league deal and have to cut him at the end of spring because he just doesn’t have it anymore. In the middle, they’ve improved some of their depth. But at best, if Petricka is finally healthy again, the Blue Jays have just picked up a pitcher for cheap who can help at the back end of games, which is clearly and area of need with the departure of Dominic Leone and the workload concerns for Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, and Roberto Osuna.
There is still clearly work to be done in both the rotation and the bullpen, but this is a nice, tidy piece of business.
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