Upon his arrival in the Bronx, Lou Trivino was a productive reliever for the Yankees. Coming off a below average performance with Oakland in the first half of the season, Trivino’s identity as a reliever was in limbo. During his career, he has had up and down performances after an incredible rookie campaign. Specifically, his cutter and slider fluctuated. Some folks attribute that to moving release points and pitch grips, suggesting Trivino had made tweaks that just didn’t work out. But even with that, it wasn’t an issue too big for Matt Blake and his team.
Initially, I suspected Blake would advise an adjustment to Trivino’s cutter and he would end up throwing the pitch more often. However, as Trivino settled into his role and repertoire in September, the usage of the pitch went down. Whatever grip he was using wasn’t working. The control was nonexistent, but that didn’t stop him from making adjustments to other pitches, most importantly, the lethal sweeping slider. Although his usage of the pitch increased as each month went on, it drastically peaked with the Yankees at 40 percent usage in September. This was the key piece in his success for the club and why his end of the year report card is a good mark.
2022 Statistics: (Yankees only): 25 games, 21.2 IP, 1.66 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 0.42 HR/9
2023 Contract Status: Second-year arbitration eligible ($4.1 million contract to avoid arbitration)
My personal assessment of Trivino’s season was actually a bit higher than my peers at PSA. Perhaps my bias came through a bit though. I have a strong affinity for pitchers who change on the fly during a long, tenuous season. It takes a few things. You have to admit that what you’re doing isn’t working. You must have humility. If you’ve previously been successful in your career, it might be even harder to come to grips that your process no longer works. It’s easiest to do that when you’re not playing or competing in a pennant race. In other words, the most ideal time to make significant adjustments is in the offseason, but that’s not what Trivino did!
This might not be completely one to one, but Trivino entered the Yankees’ bullpen as an immediate replacement for Michael King’s injury. The hole King left after injuring his elbow was significant. He was a potential multi-inning reliever with a lethal sinker, slide, changeup, and four-seam combination — every pitch was useful and viable. On the Yankees’ roster at the time, no player had a similar profile … enter Lou Trivino. His arsenal might not be quite what King’s is in its entirety, but his sweeper is just as good, and that say’s a lot. His ability to spin a sinker, changeup, cutter, and four-seam as well made him a strong candidate to take on the King role. Once the postseason came, he pretty much did. He slotted in behind the combination of Jonathan Loáisiga, Wandy Peralta, and Clay Holmes.
That’s commendable. There is a ton of pressure placed on you when you come to the Yankees. Bullpen, starter, hitter, it doesn’t matter. To make an adjustment mechanically and in a pitch repertoire while in the midst of a pennant is incredible and it actually makes me even more confident that Trivino will come into 2023 even stronger. The more time with Matt Blake and the rest of the Yankees’ pitching staff, the more opportunity Trivino has to better understand himself as a pitcher and turn that learning into execution on the mound. With King returning in 2023, Trivino will probably slot further down the leverage depth chart, but I think that gives Aaron Boone a unique opportunity to be very picky and strategic with how he is deployed. If I was to bet on it, I’d expect Trivino to have the best season of his career in 2023.