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2017 Phillies player review: Hoby Milner, Yacksel Rios, Victor Arano

This trio of arms offered promise, hope and a really weird scoreless streak

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hoby Milner, Yacksel Rios and Victor Arano were weird.

Well, let me start over. They themselves weren’t “weird” in that their personality was weird (although they very well could be). Look at their seasons:

Milner and Rios and Arano, OH MY!

Relievers IP ERA DRA BB% K% GB% FB% HR/9 WPA
Relievers IP ERA DRA BB% K% GB% FB% HR/9 WPA
H. Milner 31.1 2.01 6.06 11.5% 15.8% 45.3% 34.7% 0.57 0.42
Y. Rios 16.1 4.41 4.85 12.3% 23.3% 34.8% 36.0% 2.20 -0.08
V. Arano 10.2 1.69 3.92 9.5% 31.0% 44.0% 36.0% 0.00 0.26

In this type of chart, the thing that jumps out at you most is small sample size. We’re dealing with 58 13 innings here, or a full season of say, Luis Garcia. So any of these numbers can fluctuate rapidly, especially when you look at Rios or Arano, neither of whom cracked the 20 inning mark. Getting back the first sentence, the reason I said “weird” is that while their ERAs might be pretty neat and tidy, those disparities in ERA and DRA make you cringe ever so slightly.

This is more apparent with Hoby Milner than either other pitcher. It’s easy to see when using the eye test with Milner, but when getting into the data, that four run difference between his ERA and his DRA makes you think that a major regression is coming soon. The reason why I say the eye test is easy to see is because of the 143 relievers who threw a sinker, or two-seam fastball, this year, Milner’s average of 89.2 miles per hour ranked 133rd. That’s not good.

And yet you could argue that Milner had the most interesting season of the bunch. Midway through the season, he had a 21 game (16 23 innings) scoreless streak. Sounds impressive until you look a little closer at that streak.

  • In those 16 23 innings, Milner allowed 23 baserunners, a little high for a type of streak that sounds dominant.
  • It also saw him striking out only 10 batters, which tells me was getting a little lucky on balls in play.
  • He also wasn’t seeing too many high pressure situations, since the average leverage index during those appearances was 0.75.
  • He was only allowed to face more than three batters nine times in those 21 appearances.

All of this tells me that even though it is an impressive streak of keeping runs off of the board, manager Pete Mackanin knew what he had in Milner and didn’t want him exposed too often for fear of teams being able to acclimate themselves to his funky delivery. That could well still happen or he might be a left handed Pat Neshek, someone with a delivery that just gets outs. So, while it was a nice little streak that he had, the odds of him having it, or anything resembling it, again are probably very small. Does that mean he shouldn’t be a front runner for a bullpen spot in 2018? No, not by any means. What it does mean, at least in my eyes, is that when if he gets exposed, it’s going to get ugly.

Victor Arano was the guy who offered a little more hope and promise, thanks to his gaudy strike out rate. Of the 32 outs he made, 13 were secured by his not allowing the defense to mess anything up. Striking out 31 percent of the batters you face is a great way to get people out since you are taking care of all the work yourself. Before we get too worked up about him, just remember: it’s only 10 23 innings. There is still a lot left for him to prove this coming spring, but it’s apparent that the stuff will play in the major leagues. If he can continue to show it next year, it’ll be a rock solid addition to the relief corps.

I honestly don’t even remember Yacksel Rios pitching. Let’s check Baseball Reference. Huh. Says here he had 16 13 innings pitched? Really? His gmLI (game-entering Leverage Index) was 0.47. That’s some serious mop-up duty. I guess I had turned the game off before he was ever allowed to see the mound. Oh well. See you in Clearwater, Yack!

They say it takes a village to raise a kid. When you’re a rebuilding team, it also takes a village to raise a bullpen. Having these kinds of arms help a team get through a season, but they also allow for extended tryouts like the ones held in spring training. Only now, it’s against major league competition, not some guys ticketed for Double A. If of these three the Phillies are able to cultivate one effective reliever, it will have made their auditions this year a success.