After starting the season with a good ERA, metrics that pointed toward Chase De Jong’s success not being successful appear to be catching up to the Pittsburgh Pirates reliever
For much of the season, on the surface, Chase De Jong has appeared to be a key piece in the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen. Even though the Pirate bullpen has been mostly porous this season, De Jong appeared to be emerging as a potential bright spot.
Through is first 14 outings this season De Jong looked like a key cog in the Pirate bullpen. De Jong pitched 27.0 innings n these 14 outings, posting a 1.67 ERA while allowing just 14 hits and four home runs.
However, when you took a deeper dig, metrics painted a different picture for De Jong. De Jong was living off a .143 batting average on balls in play (BAbip). A BAbip this low indicates that he was benefitting greatly from good luck.
De Jong was struggling to miss bats. He had struck out just 20% of batters faced in these 14 outings. While that is not a poor number, it is not good enough when you’re allowing home runs at a 1.33 HR/9 clip and walking batters at a 9% clip.
De Jong owned a 4.49 FIP through his first 14 outings. This indicated that De Jong was likely due for some poor performances with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, those metrics have caught up ot De Jong and the poor performances have begun.
Dating back to June 25th De Jong has made 10 appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates. While it should be noted he missed around a month due to an injured list stint during this stretch, it does appear that metrics are catching up to De Jong.
De Jong has pitched 13.1 innings in these 10 appearances, allowing two home runs and 14 hits. His strikeout rate has dropped to 19.0% during this stretch, while his walk rate has climbed to a very concerning 13.8%. All of this has led to De Jong post a 4.73 ERA and a FIP of 5.45 during this 10 outing stretch.
For the season De Jong ranks in the bottom 28th percentile of baseball in whiff rate, while his 8% barrel rate and 37.5% hard hit rate allowed are both higher than MLB average. His fastball velocity is in just the 42nd percentile of baseball while his chase rate is in the bottom 14th percentile. The recent struggles of De Jong were very predictable.
At this point De Jong continuing to log innings out of the Pirate bullpen isn’t hurting anything. This is a lost season and the Pirates have made it clear they’re not worried about giving playing time to young players. Due to this, it doesn’t hurt to continue to let De Jong log innings out of the bullpen. That said, if his recent struggles continue down the stretch he will be a prime candidate to be designated for assignment this offseason.