With the 14th pick in the 2017 Rule 5 draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Albert Suarez, a 28-year-old right-handed swingman from the Giants. Suarez pitched in parts of the last two seasons with the Giants. Here are this statistics from 2016 and 2017:
First off, Suarez was a starting pitcher for almost his entire minor league career. He started 113 of the 119 games he appeared in. The last two years he has been utilized in long relief and as a spot starter at the major league level. The D-Backs already have a swingman in Randall Delgado, but Suarez will provide good depth as Delgado may still be a slight question mark health-wise.
Suarez’s fastball averages 93.5 MPH which he throws 49.1% of the time. Suarez has been clocked at 96 MPH though. His offspeed arsenal includes a curveball (25.6%), slider (16.5%), and changeup (8.7%). His curveball is his go-to offspeed pitch which had a pitch value WAR of 1.5. After selecting Suarez, D-Backs GM, Mike Hazen told MLB.com that, “He’s pitched in the big leagues and we like his stuff. He’s got a good curveball. We think he could slot right into the competition that we’re going to have next year.”
His curveball wasn’t his only positive value pitch in 2017 though. His fastball WAR was 1.1 in 2017 while it was 0.2 in 2016. Strictly pitching out of the ‘pen and an improved fastball value in 2017 led to a higher K/9 rate of 9.66.
Suarez was not a strikeout pitcher in the minor leagues as he only struck out 377 batters in 557.2 innings. Pitching out of the bullpen might have played his fastball up a tick though. In the video below, Suarez gets three strikeouts with his fastball at 96, 94, and 95 MPH. This was his first start from the 2016 season, but these strikeouts in the first two innings shows he can bring that velocity up in shorter stints.
While many will look at his ERA as an indicator of his “struggles” from 2017, his FIP and plate discipline metrics beg to differ. His FIP was 3.79 in 2017 which was a huge improvement from 2016. According to Fangraphs, FIP “measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing.” Basically, it is an alternative to ERA that can better represent performance. A 3.79 FIP is considered to be above average.
His O-Swing% was 31.3 in 2017 which is a little better than average, and his Z-Swing% was 59.9% which is above average. O-Swing is the pitches swung at outside of the strike zone, and Z-Swing is pitches swung at in the strike zone. These two metrics show that Suarez was average or better at getting batters to swing at more balls and fewer strikes. His FIP, O-Swing, and Z-Swing numbers all improved in the big leagues from 2016 to 2017 too.
The Diamondbacks already had a bullpen that looked full but with the potential to possibly upgrade. Suarez will at least bring competition to Spring Training with the likes of Jake Barrett, Silvino Bracho, Braden Shipley, and Matt Koch all looking for a spot on the roster. Suarez will have to stay on the 25 man roster for the entire 2018 season if the D-Backs want to keep him. Just like last year, there is going to be a battle for the last couple bullpen spots in March.