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Yankees potential trade target: Alex Colome

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Could Colome solidify the supposed super-bullpen?

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It is well known around the league that the Yankees are searching for a pitcher to boost their starting rotation. What is not too obvious to some, however, is their need for another arm in the bullpen. The quartet of Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman have combined to form an endgame unrivaled across baseball. Eliminate them from the equation, though, and things get dicey. Having David Hale or Luis Cessa pitch in high-leverage spots is not something the Yankees should be confident in.

That’s why the Bombers need to acquire another relief pitcher. Who exactly? That’s the tough part. But Alex Colome just may be the guy.

The Good

Colome, 30, currently serves as the White Sox closer. He signed a one-year deal with Chicago worth $7.3 million to avoid arbitration last year, but will enter his third year of arbitration in 2020 and hit free agency the year after. He has saved over 115 games since 2016.

This season, he’s thrown 36.2 innings, equating to a 2.21 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks. The right-hander relies primarily on two pitches: his cutter and fourseam fastball. The fourseamer averages around 94 mph, and the cutter hovers around 90 mph. Colome has been able to keep runners off base, and batters are slugging just .295 against him. For context, the league average is slightly above .400. He’s only given up 16 hits, leading to his .239 wOBA, which is in the top 2% of the league.

Alex Colome’s wOBA in 2019 compared to the MLB average.
Baseball Savant

Having pitched for the Rays from 2013-2018, Colome has plenty of experience in AL East ballparks, including a 2.25 career ERA at Yankee Stadium. If he is dealt at the deadline, it wouldn’t be his first time. Just last year he was shipped to Seattle to play for the Mariners. He appeared in 46.1 innings for the M’s while pitching to a 3.51 xFIP, striking out 49, and leaving 86.9% of runners on base. When comparing Colome’s numbers from Tampa to Seattle, it seems he improved when traded to a contender.

Alex Colome’s numbers throughout his career, including his spilts from the Rays to the Mariners.
Baseball Savant

The Bad

Colome will not overpower opponents with his fastball. That can lead him to giving up some hard contact. The average exit velocity off of him is 90.2 mph, a career high.

Alex Colome’s 2019 MLB rankings.
Baseball Savant

Colome’s 4.00 FIP is good for 37th-best in the American League. For comparison’s sake, David Hale has a 3.76 FIP. Colome K-BB% is not impressive, either. It’s at 12.6%, which is outside the top 50 for AL relievers. While he controlled the zone in the month of June, his total walk rate has catapulted to the highest he’s ever had it, 8.1%.

Alex Colome’s BB% in 2019.
Baseball Savant

Colome has an outstanding .218 wOBA, but he may be getting lucky a lot of the time. His xwOBA is a .327, which is the highest of his career since entering the league in 2013. If he were going to pitch in Yankee Stadium full-time, he might need to increase his groundball rate. Right now, he’s getting batters to hit the ball on the ground 42.1%, which is his lowest since 2014, while his fly ball rate is the highest it’s ever been. Coincidentally enough, his fly ball rate is also 42.1%, which won’t play well in the Bronx.

Lastly, here’s a quick look at how Colome stacks up against 2019 AL contenders throughout his career:

Red Sox- 39.2 IP, 4.08 ERA, 30 K
Indians- 27.2 IP, 1.95 ERA, 21 K
Astros- 16.0 IP, 1.13 ERA, 10 K
Twins- 19.2 IP, 1.83 ERA, 16 K
Rays- 5.0 IP, 7.20 ERA, 4 K

The Verdict

Colome could definitely be an upgrade in the Yankees ‘pen, especially knowing he has had some success pitching in the Bronx. With another year of control, his contract is pretty attractive. If Brian Cashman is able to get in a good position to acquire the veteran righty, he should. Though, Colome should not be the Yankees’ first choice with better options out there.