Five straight perfect appearances. Surely people remember the grand entrance that Tony Sipp made as a Houston Astro. After being released by the Padres organization at the beginning of May, Sipp has excelled as a member of the Houston Astros.
One could even argue that his age-30 season is the best year of his career.
This is all very interesting considering that Sipp signed a minor league deal in the 2013-2014 offseason. Some people would say that Tony struggled for the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas, the Padres’ highest minor league affiliate. Perhaps too many hits were given up as he had a 4.20 ERA through just under 15 innings pitched. Despite the not-so-great earned run average, Sipp had an outstanding 12.9 SO/9 ratio as well as a very low 1.2 BB/9 ratio.
The Padres did not want to move him up to the major leagues. So he was granted his release and the Astros brought him to town. Great move.
Though his perfect appearance streak eventually ended, Sipp has been impressive all year for the Astros. He doubled his career save mark and the season isn’t even over yet. (He had 1 in ’10 and another in ’12)
On to more serious measures of his talent. Sipp’s sterling SO/9 from Triple-A in April has translated to the major leagues. Among American League relievers (min. 40 IP) this season, Sipp’s 11.43 is 12th overall. Interestingly enough that is slightly less than teammate Josh Fields‘, who also spent time in the minor leagues this season.
Sometimes strike outs really do not matter too much. Yes, they make for some excitement when an umpire emphatically punches a guy out on strikes or a batter swings and misses. But there are 7 men who play behind the pitcher with the catcher also getting some action.
This is where BABIP comes into play. Using the same minimum of 40 innings pitched, Sipp ranks 2nd for all AL relievers. The leader is actually an ex-Astro in Fernando Abad with a mark of .195 while Sipp is just .05 points behind with a .200 batting average on balls in play.
Strikeouts and trusting the defense are two of the many components in creating a successful major league pitcher. Limiting base runners is critical to ensuring that the opposition does not score many runs. Sipp has developed strike zone coverage to allow him to reduce his career BB/9 rate. So far this season, Sipp is averaging 3.2 walks per 9 innings. During his below-average season with the Diamondbacks, in 2013, this figure was more than 2 walks per 9 higher.
I hope that the Astros will be able to re-sign Tony Sipp this offseason. His strikeouts and limited walks have been a pleasure to watch so far this season. Adding in his trust of the defense and his veteran status could pay dividends for the Astros ‘pen during the 2015 campaign.