Surprisingly, Lou Trivino thus far has been the positive part of last deadline’s big deal to bring in Frankie Montas. He struggled in 2022 for Oakland, but after coming to the Bronx he was able to turn his season around. He has experience as a closer, and has shown an ability to succeed outside of that role as well. However, the righty will be starting the year on the injured list, so his contributions (particularly early on) are understandably up in the air.
2022 Statistics: 53.2 IP, 4.53 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 1.64 WHIP, 26.8 K%, 9.6 BB%, 1.01 HR/9, 0.2 fWAR
2023 ZiPS Projections: 55 IP, 4.25 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 25.2 K%, 10.1 BB%, 1.15 HR/9, 0.1 fWAR
2022 was a tale of two halves and two teams for Trivino. Before being dealt to New York mid-season, he pitched 32 innings for the rebuilding Athletics. All things considered, and going off of pure results, it was his worst performance in the majors up to that point. He had a 6.47 ERA, albeit with a much less concerning 3.83 FIP at the same time. This was really the story of his first half out West — despite his noisy ERA, he was actually pitching fairly well. In fact, in his time in Oakland last year, he was striking out more batters and walking less than he ever had in his big league career. As his FIP suggests, he was probably just running into some bad luck. All of this points to Trivino being a sneaky valuable pickup for the Yankees.
He was able to show his true ability, too, as the scales seemed to balance in his 21.2 innings in New York. He posted a much more reassuring, if not exciting 1.66 ERA in pinstripes, and a lower 3.34 FIP. On top of this, he also managed a career-high 52.6 percent groundball rate throughout the year as well.
As we look forward to the imminent 2023 season, given his health, what to expect from Trivino is hard to pin down. Earlier this month, it was revealed that the righty would begin the season on IL with strain in his elbow, in what has become a parade of guys headed for the same fate on Opening Day. He began throwing again on March 18th, but the Yanks can only hope to have him back by end of April as things stand.
When he does return, however, he will be an important part of this staff. Projections have him as something close to a replacement level reliever, but given his performance last year and his relatively solid and established track record, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise at all to see him be a vital piece of the bullpen puzzle.
For the most part last year, Trivino was a five pitch pitcher (save for a handful of curveballs), featuring a sinker, slider, four-seamer, cutter, and changeup, in that order of favorability. Interestingly, his sinker is his most frequently thrown pitch as well as one of the ones hitters damage the most (.418 wOBA against). The big slider is his money pitch, and perhaps he and the Yankees coaching staff could benefit from upping its usage, or tweaking with his sequencing to mix it in more often.
As things stand now, at the top, the Yankees have as strong a bullpen as anyone between Clay Holmes, Michael King, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Wandy Peralta. Trivino, as mentioned, will be starting the year on the shelf, but upon his return, he’s likely be an important weapon for Aaron Boone out of the ‘pen. Perhaps most importantly, it just gives them another potentially impact arm if the staff is stretched thin, which it inevitably will be at some point. As they say, you can never have enough pitching, and Trivino just adds to an already impressive group.
As usual, the bullpen is a big strength for the Yankees headed into 2023. This is looking like an even more important factor, with the majority of the anticipated starting rotation beginning the year on the injured list. Lou Trivino gives the Yankees another experienced arm on top of an already solid group once he returns from his injury, hopefully by the end of April. If he can come close to replicating his performance in pinstripes from last year, he could be one of the best relievers the Yankees have.