Baseball is a beautiful game. At any position, you can experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. However, as a reliever, those highs and lows can come few and far between depending on who you are. The current landscape of MLB relieverism is too odd. Players on the 40-man roster have options that will be used. You can be great for one appearance, 10, or 20 and still be sent down to the minor leagues. It’s an unknown that this group of players always faces.
On this past Thursday night against the Athletics, Greg Weissert made his debut in a low leverage situation. As you know, it didn’t go well. While I and many assumed he would get at least another chance, there is always that unknown that you may not. Luckily for the Fordham grad and NY-born reliever, he got his shot and rebounded with flying colors. In the Yankees’ loss against the Athletics on Sunday, Weissert came in and delivered two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. The appearance looked much more like the ones he has had in Triple-A this season.
I don’t get excited for every single player that comes up for the Yankees. That would be exhausting. But every now and then you get a pitcher like Weissert whom scouts have talked about for a few years with quiet excitement. In my case, I knew Weissert’s slider had unicorn sweeper qualities based off of video and Baseball America’s consistent crowning of the pitch as the best of its kind in the organization, but it’s required some patience to see the data behind the pitch.
Greg Weissert, 95mph Sinker and 81mph Slider, Individual Pitches + Overlay pic.twitter.com/dbT3EA8L90— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 29, 2022
You don’t need data to realize that both these pitches are filthy. When two pitches cross paths like this, it makes for a tough at-bat for any hitter, lefty or righty. However, I’ve still been very excited to see the data behind the pitch to validate its special qualities. I know it’s only been two appearances for Weissert, but this type of data is sticky even in an inning’s worth of pitches. Spin rate, movement, and spin efficiency aren’t going to fluctuate.
Let’s start with the spin on the slider. It’s averaged 2865 rpms so far, and that would place it in at least the 90th percentile for all of baseball. Okay. Now what about active spin/spin efficiency? That stands at 67 percent, giving it a balance of magnus and gyro spin. If you don’t remember, a middle ground between those two is needed to tell us if a pitch is heavy with seam-shifted wake or not. Lastly, it’s important to pay attention with your eyes. Is the pitch fooling hitters? Are swing timings distorted at all?
Check and check. Seth Brown wasn’t close to making contact. He may have recognized the pitch speed, but he was fooled by its movement. 17 inches of sweep is 64 percent above league average. All of this juicy info tells us the whirly is strong in this one.
This is an ideal release point to induce this level of movement on a baseball. It also helps for throwing a well-tunneled sinker. The sinker was the pitch that reminded me a ton of Michael King. Recall that no pitcher in baseball was better than King at the back door sinker for a called strike. In Weissert’s appearance on Sunday, he showcased a very similar skill.
Weissert’s setup paired with a cross body arm action leads to hitters bailing out on a running sinker like this one. To the naked eye from the batter’s perspective, this pitch doesn’t make any sense. It’s moving from one batter’s box to the other and has late life which brings it back across the plate. What a nightmare for a right-handed hitter.
On top of the sinker and slider, Weissert also shows a four-seam fastball primarily thrown up in the zone and a changeup which is ideally located below the zone. Both pitches are good weapons for facing left-handed hitters since the glove side sinker and super sweeping slider are slightly more high risk in certain cases. In the chart above, you can see how much separation of movement the pitches have. Each plays well with another. Overall, the repertoire without a doubt reminds me of King. Funky release which crates insane movement on the sinker and sweeper, and then two additional offerings to diversify the total package.
If you can’t tell, I’m excited about Weissert’s potential in the Yankees ‘pen. It’s a similar feeling to King and Marinaccio from earlier in the year. There are unique qualities which he and the Yankees have worked together to develop, and it seems he has an understanding of how to use everything he has to play the sinker/slider combo up. I’m not sure what role he will serve for the rest of the season, but there is no doubt the stuff is good enough to play an important one, whether that be this September or in the following years.