Aneury struggled in the bullpen to start the season, but did have a few good outings towards the end of April. The last couple of decent bullpen outings coupled with Figueroa’s struggles in the rotation were enough for Brad Mills to switch these two pitcher’s roles. I decided to compare Aneury’s results in relief to his last start to see what the differences were since the results between the pen and the start were very significant.
In relief Aneury posted a 6.75 ERA in 8 innings pitched. In those 8 innings he allowed 9 hits, 6 earned runs, 4 walks, and struck out 7. 2 of those 9 hits left the yard. According to FanGraphs both his FIP of 6.35 and his BABIP of .292 don’t show anything out of the ordinary, but his xFIP of 4.57 shows that he was unlucky on flyballs, with 2 out of the 10 he’s given up leaving the yard. This means that his HR/FB ratio of 20% was almost double the league average rate of 10.6%.
In his 8 relief outings this year 59.6% of Aneury’s pitches were fastballs, 30.4% were sliders, 5% were curveballs, and 5% were changeups. This means that he was basically a 2-pitch pitcher in the pen this year. Of those pitches his slider and curveball netted him positive values with the slider being +0.70, and the curveball being +0.10. His fastball had a value of -3.1 and his changeup had a value of -0.4. His average fastball velocity was 91, average slider velocity was 78.8, average changeup velocity was 84.7, and his average curveball velocity was 77.4.
Starting Rotation (1 start)
In his first start of the season Aneury had better results going 5 innings without allowing a run, gave up 1 walk, and struck out 3. While you can’t argue with the overall results of 1 hit in 5 innings pitched, looking at the other factors in this start show that he was probably a little bit lucky, and that we may not be able this type of production moving forward. His BABIP was .077, and his xFIP was 4.23. He recorded 8 fly outs, 4 groundouts, and 1 out on a line drive. His arsenal in this game was similar to what he threw coming out of the pen with 60% of his pitches being fastballs, 30% being sliders, and 10% being changeups.
Since Aneury didn’t really do anything different as far as pitch selection between his last start and the bullpen, coupled with the fact that he still gave up more fly outs than groundouts, its safe to say that his future performance will probably mirror his numbers out of the bullpen more than what he posted in his first start. With the low BABIP and almost every fly ball hit being an out, it’s safe to see that he was pretty lucky in his first start.
What was impressive in this start though is that his fastball velocity reached 94 several times throughout the night before tailoring off towards the end of his outing, which is to be expected in his first start. He had excellent fastball command with 67% of the fastballs he threw were strikes, but struggled to locate his slider. He may profile similarly to a Bud Norris given the fact that he relies primarily on a fastball-slider combination. If he can continue to locate his fastball well and improve his location of his slider than he can be effective as a starter. At this stage in his career it’s safe to say that he will probably not develop an effective 3rd pitch, since he has been in full season ball since age 19 and threw mostly the 2 pitches throughout his minor league career. However, you can never rule out the Brad Arnsberg effect. Maybe Arnsberg can help Aneury develop a decent 3rd offering that would make him more effective as a starter. If so, then the Astros may have found a promising middle of the rotation starter at an excellent price. If not then they at least have a serviceable arm that can pitch in both the rotation and the bullpen for several years to come. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that Rodriguez will probably stay on the 25-man roster this season.