Astros 2016 Rewind: A Lackluster Year for Left Hander Tony Sipp

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Sep 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Tony Sipp (29) pitches agains the Oakland Athletics in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Tony Sipp (29) pitches agains the Oakland Athletics in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tony Sipp had a rough season with the Astros in 2016 and will look to bounce back in 2017.

In July, A.J. Hinch addressed Tony Sipp’s struggles in an interview for MLB.com and maintained confidence in Sipp as the Astros’ situational reliever. However, Sipp did bolster improved numbers as the season developed. He was finding more of his old feel in September (2.05 ERA for that month), after an abysmal August which included a 9.95 ERA for that time frame.

His Personal Life

Sipp did go on paternity leave in May, as he welcomed the birth of his second child. This resulted in a slump in Sipp’s performance. Unfortunately, the stress of a newborn can easily take someone out of the competitive frame of mind when on the mound.

His Abilities

Sipp is a left-handed relief pitcher, who uses a four-seam fastball (92 mph average speed), slider (82 mph average speed) and splitter (78 mph average speed) to work against hitters. Occasionally, he will throw a sinker; that it is not prolific in his arsenal.

His Approach

Sipp is not a power pitcher, and that requires him to use his off-speed pitches to “amplify” his fastball. The problem is that all pitches much be working the bottom half of the zone. In other words, Sipp must use the high fastball sparingly to produce the necessary outs. However, Sipp does show great combinations of pitches.

The use of a two-seam fastball would add extra deception from the left-hander. For a lefty, a two-seam fastball show runs away from right-handed hitters, and inversely move inwards to left-handed hitters.

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The beauty of the two-seam fastball is that it will flow from the same slot of his four-seam fastball. The development of a two-seam fastball may allow him to camouflage his splitter, as they will show similar paths and break, but different levels of speed.

His Expectations

All in all, the lefty is a valuable reliever and will look to bounce back during his 2017 campaign. He can produce outs for multiple innings in relief. He is useful against both right and left-handed hitters. Career batting average against Sipp is .218, with 2016 being the highest average (.297) he’s allowed in a season.

The lefty offers a veteran presence for such a young club. Fans can expect Sipp to produce an ERA around three runs, allowing from 30-40 hits and pitching in 50 or more innings.

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Ultimately, Sipp has great upside as a reliever. He will provide the bullpen with a veteran presence and solid performances in 2017.

***Statistics and Data provided by Baseball Reference, MLB.com, and Brooks Baseball***

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