Do the Houston Astros need to trade for a second lefty?
As Eric Huysman wrote about in his article, “A Look at the Struggles of Tony Sipp in 2016,” Sipp is having the worst season of his career. In 35 games, he has a 5.32 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in his 23.2 innings pitched.
With his inability to get lefties out, with a 1.70 WHIP and .314 average against them, the Astros are in need of a lefty specialist out of the pen. With the trade deadline approaching, there are some options that the Astros could acquire. However, with talent already in the system, the Astros might also be looking within. Here are some options to offer some much-needed support against left-handed hitters.
Choice 1: Tony Sipp
After signing a three-year $18 million dollar deal with the Astros in the offseason, Sipp was expected to be the guy against left-handed hitters. That has not been the case in 2016.
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As Huysman pointed out in his article, Sipp has lost velocity on all of his pitches. This has led to a higher fly ball percentage, which, in a hitter’s park like Minute Maid is, leads to more home runs. How much more? He gives up 1.5 more home runs per nine innings this season than he did in 2015.
With the drop in strikeouts and dramatic rise in hits given up and home runs given up, Sipp is going on be on a short leash coming back from the All-Star break this weekend. However, there is hope that his season can be turned around.
First, in his Astros career, Sipp has been a great pitcher post All-Star break. Although his ERA is much different, with a 4.01 ERA in 2014 compared to a remarkable 0.41 ERA in 2015, both seasons show that hitters had a hard time figuring out Sipp. In 2014, Sipp gave up 11 earned runs in his 24.2 innings of work. However, those 11 earned runs came from only 12 hits and 11 walks. With a .143 batting average against, Sipp had a 0.93 WHIP post All-Star break.
Second, Sipp has shown in the past, especially in his career with the Astros, that ground balls lead to success. In his breakout season in 2015, Sipp had a career-high 38.8% of the balls in play lead to ground balls. This was because of how often Sipp used his fastball. His velocity this season is only down 0.5 miles per hour on average. However, this is leading more to Sipp relying on his breaking balls. This season, he has thrown his slider 32.6% of the time, which is his highest percentage since 2013. Also, he has used his
This season, he has thrown his slider 32.6% of the time, which is his highest percentage since 2013. Also, he has used his changeup more this year than any other year before. With those two pitches averaging in the high seventies, they are hittable pitches without movement. If Sipp can pitch to his strength and rely on his fastball once again, that will lead to more outs, especially against left-handed hitters.
Next: Choice 2