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  • Twins Tidbit: What's Behind the Breakout of Bullpen Addition Jorge Lopez?


    The Twins new bullpen addition, Jorge Lopez, has experienced a breakout season in 2022. He had a 6.04 career ERA with 7.6 K/9 innings entering 2022. But a full-time move to the bullpen in 2022 has seen his ERA drop to 1.68 with over 10 K/9 innings. The underlying numbers tell the story.

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    The above graph compares the average spin rate and average velocity of Lopez's five pitches to all other pitchers in 2022, with the pitch-specific percentile indicated by the point. So, for example, Lopez's sinker from 2021 would qualify as a 76th percentile sinker for average velocity. In other words, his 2021 sinker was thrown harder than 76 percent of sinkers.

    Upon his move to a full-time bullpen role, Jorge Lopez has added velocity and spin rate to all five of his pitches. His go-to pitch is the sinker and he now owns a 94th percentile sinker for velocity. In fact, all five of his pitches are now above the 84th percentile for velocity. Every one of his pitches gets on hitters quickly.

    On the other hand, none of his five pitches is above the 45th percentile for spin rate. Given that he will only ever see a hitter once in a game, it's enough to blow them away with velocity. Lopez's ability to get more out of each of his pitches and specialize in throwing the ball hard upon moving to the bullpen has transformed his career. The Twins are betting that adding Lopez to the mix will transform their bullpen.


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    It'll be interesting to see if the Twins try to refine his pitch mix further (maybe dropping another option entirely), especially since they've organizationally been fans of the slider. But Lopez's success is just another reminder that you can make bullpen weapons out of failed starters quite often.

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    10 hours ago, Game7-91 said:

    OTOH: "If it aint't broke, don't fix it".

    Exactly. I'd prefer them not to touch him for the time being. Most of our best pitchers are ones that have come from other organizations(Lopez, Gray, Ryan). I don't think that's a coincidence.

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    Yeah, the concerns by casual fans (Twins & Orioles) who most strongly judge on ERA, have been quite verbal about how he is just hot and going to regress to his career numbers before long.

    It's amazing having data like this to prove the performance is pretty real, even if the ERA might be a little lower than the performance would indicate. SSS often makes ERA so volatile (see Theilbar, Caleb), which is why it is not a great tool for performance.

    This dude is a stud. Arguably a Top 15 reliever in MLB. As long as he stays healthy, he will likely maintain that status.

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