(Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)
In my opinion, not enough attention is paid to middle relievers in our great game of fantasy baseball. It’s almost as if a relief pitcher isn’t getting you saves at the current moment in time, he is virtually worthless. That shouldn’t be the case. Every season unrecognizable names turn into some of the best relievers in the game. You can tell so much by watching a pitcher progress from low to high leverage situations even if they don’t have the most popular name or resume. I believe Jesse Biddle is next up.
The former 1st-round pick, and 2012 #1 prospect in the Phillies organization (according to Baseball America), Biddle finally seems comfortable after an up and down career to this point. In 2015, Biddle underwent Tommy John surgery and was later traded to the Braves in 2016. With his first taste of the big leagues coming this season, Biddle has had a great amount of success so far. In just 51.2 IP, the 26-year-old has worked his way into high leverage situations thanks to his 2.44 ERA and 9.75 K/9.
Sporting three pitches in his repertoire, Biddle really seems to have a grasp on how to pitch. That’s something you don’t see much of in 2018. He displays a plus Fastball that sits at 95, primarily used to set up his secondary stuff. The young lefty is also great at locating his breaking pitches low and away to LHH and low and in to RHH, which tells us a lot about his baseball IQ. Let’s break it all down…
I wanted to begin with the curveball because it seems to be his favorite and most effective out pitch (also because the one above to Yadiel Rivera is disgusting). Biddle seems to be really comfortable with his curve especially against RHH using it 29% of the time in all counts as opposed to just 13% vs LHH. The following zone profile for Biddle’s curveball is something I love to see for a LHP and one that shows a lot of promise.
As long as you can consistently locate that pitch low and in against RHH and low and away against LHH, you can have continued success, as those spots are very difficult for a hitter to get a good piece of (hence why opponents are hitting just .053 against the pitch). Let’s check out his other breaking pitch…
A lot of the same principles from above apply to the slider as well. While Biddle may not be having the same type of success with his slider, he’s still using it in the right situations. Also, he’s generating more whiffs with his slider than any other pitch.
Like in the at-bat below, Biddle primarily uses his slider when ahead in the count or with two strikes. Again, Biddle hit his spot and put Starlin Castro in a position where all he could do was whiff at the pitch. As long as he can repeat his mechanics, Biddle should live there for the majority of his career. Now to the fastball…
Like I stated earlier, Biddle uses his fastball to get ahead in counts and set up his secondary stuff. It usually sits at around 95 MPH but can also climb up to north of 97. Not only that, but he also generates a ridiculous 63.2% ground ball percentage with his fourseamer. Thats entering Zach Britton territory.
You can see in his zone profile that Biddle is very good at changing hitters eye levels with his fastball and the pitch even has some late run to it which makes it very difficult to hit for RHH. While his other pitches are vital, the fastball remains key as it makes everything else possible.
To put everything in perspective, as long as Biddle continues to hit his spots and keep his stuff down, he should be able to stick around for a long time. While he currently has a disappointing BB/9 of 3.66, I think that number will become more average as time goes on. He hasn’t put up a walk rate that high since before he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.
Almost every reliever has a plus fastball these days, which makes it refreshing to see a guy come out of the pen who knows how to pitch as opposed to just throwing as hard as he can. If you don’t believe me about Biddle, believe his stuff.