Scott Effross. Are you familiar with the name? Probably not, but you will be very soon.
Once again, Brian Cashman has made an under-the-radar acquisition for a reliever with an elite pitch, as he brought Effross in from the Cubs in exchange for prospect Hayden Wesneski. Effross is an extremely unsurprising acquisition. He perfectly fits the mold for Yankees relievers.
Elite pitch? Check.
Controllable at low cost? Check.
Different from anybody else in the league? Check.
This is a diversification move. The Yankees have multiple hard-throwing, right-handed sinker ballers. Clay Holmes, Albert Abreu, and Jonathan Loáisiga all fit that mold. They also have Ron Marinaccio, a near side-arm thrower with a changeup dominant arsenal. Effross is unlike any of these righties. He is essentially a submariner with a low-90s sinker. His vertical release point is one of the lowest in baseball. It’s comparable to longtime big leaguer Darren O’Day, who the Yankees also liked enough to sign prior to 2021 (though an injury curtailed the veteran's pinstriped tenure).
However, in comparison to O’Day, Effross has a much more horizontal release. In fact, of all players with vertical release points of less than five feet from the ground, Effross has the most horizontal release at -4.4 ft. See what I mean about uniqueness?
For Effross, it’s not all about whiffs, but the slider gets its fair share at just over 30 percent. This is inevitable when you have one of the highest chase rates in baseball (96th percentile).
More importantly, the slider is a barrel-misser. In many ways, I’m reminded of O’Day at his peak when watching Effross’ ability to miss barrels from both righties and lefties. One of Mookie Betts’ best skills as a hitter is that he avoids rollover swings like this one. His ability to decelerate and stay on any pitch is special, but on this never-ending frisbee slider from Effross, he could not resist chasing and grounding this pitch to the left side. The Yankees have pitchers with great sliders, but this one is a bit different.
The seam-shifted wake profile is convincing. There are 30 degrees of separation and an active spin percentage of 32 percent. If you recall from earlier in the year, it’s important to consider deviation, gyro spin, release point, and grip when evaluating SSW, but these two indicators are nice surface level points to go along with the video. I don’t have the exact movement deviation numbers, but based on Effross' chase rate and quality of swing from opposing batters, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is considerable deviation.
effross rules. yankees know what they’re doing. this arm slot allows him to create a ton of sweep on his slider and arm-side movement/sink on the sinker. 30.6% and 33.3% ball percentages with the sinker and slider — the man doesn’t throw balls. the low xwOBAcon is legit too, imo https://t.co/qoTlGxA6Fw pic.twitter.com/JTEKLcqF0V— Mikey Ajeto #RejectMarcosDuterte (@_kuyamikey) August 1, 2022
Mikey Ajeto puts it nicely here. Effross' unique release point is the root of his success. He is the perfect sinker/slider pitcher. His command of those pitches puts him in the perfect position to get a mix of whiffs and groundballs. Like I said earlier, he is going to be a different look from any other pitcher the Yankees currently have on their major league roster. Diversification is key when going through the types of lineups that the Blue Jays, Astros, and Twins have to offer.
All this said, and I haven’t said all that much about the sinker and changeup. Effross throws the sinker 36 percent of the time. It hasn’t had great success this season with a .357 average against and .514 slugging percentage. However, this is what the Yankees and Matt Blake are all about. If they make slight tweaks to the sinker grip and can make it average, then the slider will be even more dominant. At the same time, the current sinker may be crucial to how the right-hander's slider performs. Either way, Effross is already very good in his current state.
I love this deal by Brian Cashman. It’s not like the Yankees were in desperate need of a super powerful reliever. With Loáisiga and Chapman returning to form, adding a funky arm slot reliever with frisbee and great command is a wonderful addition to this bullpen. Get used to Effross. He will be here five years after this one and will be a funky weapon all along the way.