photo credit:John Rieger/USA Today Sports
If it were up to me, Chasen Shreve would never face another right-handed batter while in a Yankee uniform. This decision shouldn’t just be made because the Yankees have an influx of effective right-handed pitchers lined up in their bullpen. Shreve is just really bad against right-handed hitters.
Of all American League relievers with at least 45 innings pitched in 2017, Chasen Shreve’s 1.59 HR/9 was the 5th worst. Shreve’s BB/9 of 4.96 ranked 4th worst in the American League.
These numbers get even worse when you look at Shreve’s splits against righties last season. In 28 innings, Shreve gave up 7 home runs, 8 doubles, along with 19 walks.
Most concerning, right-handed batters slugged .491 against Shreve last season. Only 23 hitters in the AL finished 2017 with a higher slugging percentage. Not such a good number when opposing right-handed batters (good and bad) are able to inflict that much damage.
On the Bright Side
The upside for Shreve last year is that his splits against left-handed hitters were excellent. He allowed only 1 homerun in 17.1 innings pitched while striking out 26 batters. Shreve also held left-handed batters to a paltry .161 batting average. To compare, Shreve’s batting average against left-handed batters would have been 8th best in the AL.
Additionally, Shreve’s WHIP against left-handed hitters was tied for 16th in the AL, while his WHIP against right-handed batters was tied for 84th.
The most impressive stat for Shreve is that left-handed hitters are slugging only .262 against him, nearly half of what it is for right-handed batters.
In Shreve’s career, left-handed hitters have managed an on base percentage of .325, while right-handed hitters were slightly lower at .310. Hitters from the left side are hitting .233 against Shreve while right-handed hitters only hit .210.
Although Shreve’s career splits may appear that he’s slightly better when facing batters from the right side, BABIP disagrees.
Left-handed batters have posted a .314 BABIP against Shreve (the league average is .300) while right-handed hitters have managed to post only a .234. This difference suggests that Shreve has been slightly unlucky against left-handed hitters in his career while also getting very lucky against righties.
Shreve’s FIP splits also suggest that he pitches much better against left-handed hitters. When facing hitters batting from the left side, Shreve’s FIP is 3.69, compared to a bloated 5.29 against batters from the right side.
In Shreve’s last three seasons, he has posted FanGraph WARs of -0.2, -0.4, and 0.2. He likely would have posted a higher fWAR last season by only facing lefties and never facing a single righty.
These minute decisions could make all the difference over a between a World Series winner and a World Series participant.