Monday, May 6

Yennier Cano is (Ca)No Joke

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

One of the good truisms of contemporary baseball is that good groups can churn out good relievers at will. The Rays, Dodgers, and Astros do it yearly. The Yankees develop so many pitching prospects that they’ve created a facet hustle buying and selling them for assist elsewhere. The Guardians, Brewers, and Mariners are not any slouches. The subsequent dominant reliever on these squads won’t be within the majors but and even on individuals’s prospect radar.

You can add the Orioles to that listing. Last 12 months, Jorge López broke out and netted them 4 gamers in commerce, whereas Félix Bautista additionally broke out and is now the nearer. It will get higher than that, although – one of many gamers the Orioles obtained again within the López commerce is Yennier Cano, who hardly appeared like a marquee addition. Already 28 and with solely 13.2 (dangerous) main league innings to his title, he seemed like an up-and-down reliever should you’re an optimist. He was thirty eighth on our listing of the prime 38 Orioles prospects earlier than the 12 months began. Hey, at the very least he was listed!

Yeah, uh, about that. In an admittedly tiny seven innings of main league work this 12 months, Cano has posted otherworldly numbers. He’s struck out 9 of the 20 batters he’s confronted, hasn’t walked anybody, and hasn’t even allowed successful. For what it’s price, he additionally pitched three scoreless innings in Triple-A earlier than being referred to as up. It seems just like the Orioles have completed it once more.

Given that we’re working with such a small pattern, specializing in Cano’s particular person pitches is a greater means of assessing his expertise than simply saying “he’s literally unhittable.” We’ll begin, as Cano does, together with his heavy sinker. And after I say heavy, I imply heavy. Here, have a look:

From that low arm slot, the ball simply vanishes. It’s an absolute nightmare for righties; it tails almost a foot to the arm facet and really drops vertically even earlier than accounting for gravity. There are solely 5 pitchers with extra destructive vertical motion on their sinker up to now this 12 months: Alex Claudio, Ryan Thompson, Tim Hill, Adam Cimber, and Tyler Rogers. All 5 of these guys have a lot decrease launch factors than Cano — at the very least a foot decrease in all instances, and often two or three.

In different phrases, Cano’s sinker is an outlier even amongst main league pitchers. The closest comparability I can give you is Justin Lawrence’s sinker, or possibly Tanner Houck’s if he threw it extra typically. It’s a tricky pitch to guage, and likewise a tricky pitch to hit. The form and velocity result in a ton of takes; Cano is operating a 41.3% referred to as plus swinging strike charge (CSW%) on his sinker up to now this 12 months, the seventh-best mark in baseball out of 189 pitchers who’ve thrown at the very least 25 sinkers. The guys forward of him on the listing are fairly good, too: José Alvarado is the perfect in baseball at it, Aaron Nola is second, and pitch twin Tanner Houck is fifth.

That’s not an exceptional quantity within the broader context of all of the pitches in baseball. Ross Stripling has a 58.1% CSW% on his curveball this 12 months, for instance. But for a sinker, it’s excellent, as a result of batters aren’t precisely doing injury after they make contact anyway. Opponents have put eight Cano sinkers into play this 12 months: six grounders, a fly ball, and a delicate liner to 3rd. We’re not speaking about scorched grounders, even; right here’s the hardest-hit one:

The greatest problem with a sinker like that is location. It strikes a lot that Cano hasn’t all the time had nice management of it. He ran a 16.5% stroll charge in his quick main league expertise final 12 months and had loads of ugly stroll numbers throughout his time within the minors. This 12 months, although, he’s throwing it within the strike zone greater than 70% of the time. When you’ve a pitch that unusual and good, you would possibly as effectively put it within the zone and see what opposing hitters can do with it. The reply, up to now, isn’t a lot.

Of course, one factor they’ll do with it’s foul it off. Sinkers would possibly get a number of referred to as strikes, however they’re arduous to throw previous somebody; the motion profile simply doesn’t work that means. Cano is operating a forty five% strikeout charge, and he’s not doing it together with his sinker, nice because the pitch is likely to be. No, for that he wants a change of tempo:

I needed to watch that video 5 instances to really admire the depth of this pitch. Look at the place the ball crosses the plate, then have a look at the place Adley Rutschman catches it. You suppose Cano’s sinker is heavy? His changeup is carrying lead boots. Amusingly, the spin on the pitch doesn’t give it any further downward motion. What occurs as a substitute is that he kills a lot elevate that the slower pace makes it vanish. Per Baseball Savant, his changeup falls 5.3 inches greater than the typical changeup thrown with related velocity and likewise tails 2.5 further inches.

Hitting a 90 mph pitch that falls off the desk like that’s simpler stated than completed, and it’s not even simply stated. Cano has solely thrown 17 changeups this 12 months, so take this with a kind of large salt crystals you drop in pasta water, however opponents have swung at eight changeups and are available up empty seven instances. You simply can’t hit it, significantly as a result of he does an ideal job of disguising it as a sinker out of his hand.

The bind for a hitter is terrible. Take a number of sinkers as a result of you’ll be able to’t do something with them, and also you’ll find yourself with two strikes. Then you’re compelled to swing at a sinker, however shock! Instead of a sinker, he threw a freaking bowling ball. Thanks for enjoying, come again tomorrow and take a look at once more.

Oh yeah – Cano has a slider too. It’s not the perfect pitch in his bag, however it serves a particular goal. It performs off of his sinker by beginning on the identical airplane however breaking the alternative means horizontally. It’s the form of pitch that performs higher than it seems, however nonetheless, right here’s the way it seems:

The joke right here is that batters swing at one thing that they count on to start out off the plate and tail again onto the outer half. Instead, the ball by no means adjustments path and continues its regular path out of the zone. Whoopsie! Knowing that Cano has that outrageous sinker, batters give it some thought, and it makes the slider higher. Only righties, although; that form of no-movement pitch from his arm angle is a no go in opposition to lefties, so he abandons it in favor of much more changeups in opposition to them.

Can this efficiency maintain up for the whole 12 months? I imply, no. He hasn’t allowed successful. I’m fairly certain that gained’t preserve occurring, even when he places up a wonderful season total. But should you’re questioning why hitting is so arduous, Cano is a good instance. He was unplayably dangerous final 12 months. He began throwing the ball within the strike zone extra typically and voila, unhittable shutdown reliever. Good luck on the market, hitters. You’ll want it.

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