(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)
Relievers with less than 15 innings of big league experience are rarely, if ever, pitching in high-leverage roles. However, Chicago White Sox left-hander Jace Fry is not your average reliever. Or at least, he’s not pitching like one. In just 8 1/3 innings on the season, Fry has managed an outstanding 12/2 K/BB ratio. On top of that, he has yet to allow a hit.
The White Sox have taken notice. After primarily pitching in low-leverage situations, Fry entered Saturday’s game in the eighth inning to preserve a two-run lead. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning, punching out left-hander Nomar Mazara. He was even asked to come on in the ninth inning to face Rougned Odor, who he promptly K’d. Nate Jones took over from there, but Fry got his chance to close the very next day.
In a 3-0 game, Fry came on in the ninth and got Jurickson Profar to fly out before striking out Mazara and Joey Gallo to end the threat.
So who is this mystery left-hander in Chicago? And does he have what it takes to ‘fry’ up some more save opportunities this season?
Fry was a starter at Oregon State before getting drafted in the third round of the 2014 MLB draft by the White Sox. After a second UCL tear cost him all of 2016, the White Sox decided he was best utilized as a reliever. A move to the bullpen gave Fry an opportunity to experiment with a hard slider, a pitch he has weaponized this season. Here’s a quick look at his entire arsenal, and what he could bring to the table in fantasy leagues:
Jace Fry’s Fastball
Fry’s sinking fastball is nothing elite, sitting around 92 miles per hour with about eight inches of vertical drop to it. Here he paints it perfectly on the outside black to Kris Bryant, setting up for breaking stuff later in the at-bat. Fry won’t be able to rely on just his fastball to get hitters out, but it’s a valuable set-up pitch. Additionally, this pitch will generate plenty of ground balls. He’s only thrown 88 big league sinkers, but he has a 50% ground ball rate.
Jace Fry’s Slider
This is Fry’s best, and most confusing, pitch. He calls it a cutter but it’s movement mirrors that of a more traditional slider. The first GIF is a good example of Fry attacking left-handers up in the zone and then using his cutter/slider hybrid get them to turn their shoulder away. This isn’t a great pitch location wise, but he was able to get ahead and strike him out later on in the at-bat.
The second one looks more like a cutter, with late movement down and away from the left-handed Mazara. This pitch pairs well with his sinker, which has a little arm side run and drop. While not operating with a ton of velocity, Fry is able to use his low-90’s sinker and his high-80’s slider/cutter to keep hitters off balance. Movement is the key here, as each pitch can be manipulated to move in and away from hitters.
Jace Fry’s Curveball
Fry’s curveball is the perfect compliment to his sinker/cutter combo. Those two each have nice lateral movement – one moves into a left-hander and the other moves away. That affords him the opportunity to use this heavy breaking curve-ball against both righties and lefties. Fry admits to using this pitch against left-handers to get in their head by starting it high and tight and letting it fall back into the strike zone.
Will Fry Close?
From a fantasy perspective, the big question is if Fry is going to continue to get save opportunities. Judging him on just 8 1/3 innings of work is foolish, but it is worth noting that the White Sox have definitely taken note of his strong start this year. And the late inning combination of Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon does not inspire a ton of confidence. Additionally, the White Sox are still very much in rebuilding mode. Soria and Jones are both candidates to be dealt at the trade deadline, which could open up a spot for Fry to be a ‘second-half closer’.
Fry already has three holds and one save on the year, and that’s across seven appearances. Obviously he’s not going to go the entire year without giving up a hit or a run, but the changes he’s made to his arsenal make him an intriguing closing option for the White Sox. In AL-only leagues or 14-team formats that count holds, Fry is worth a speculative add. At the very least, he should be considered when the White Sox are playing teams, like the Rangers, with a heavy left-handed leaning lineup.
Great Article! It will be interesting to see if the league eventually adjusts to the arsenal, or if it is just too nasty to adjust too.
PS: It’ll be interesting to see where he falls in Holds/Saves list, when next updated.