Upon hearing the news that the Orioles reacquired Logan Verrett from the Mets for cash considerations, it was tough to muster up any consideration of emotion.
In what’s been a slow-moving offseason for every team not named the Astros, the Orioles made their first semi-splash of the winter, and it was a move doused in Dan Duquette’s fingerprints. Verrett, one of the Orioles’ Rule-5 draft picks two winters ago, was passed over by the O’s in favor of Jason Garcia’s “livelier” arm. After a month-long stint with the Rangers, Verrett eventually made his way back to New York.
Verrett was used as both a starter and long reliever with the Mets for parts of two seasons, accruing a 4.56 ERA/5.05 FIP in 130.1 innings. His effectiveness as a reliever (3.59 ERA/86 OPS+) has maintained pockets of value, while his performance in 16 career starts (5.68 ERA/110 OPS+) remains unremarkable.
Having never proven stable value in the starting rotation, Verrett is probably destined to be a Swiss army knife that Duquette believes “Every staff needs...”. So you see, the lack of joyous overcoming isn’t ill-suited. It’s justified.
And yet, in some mysterious way, Verrett is sorta kinda interesting. With only 139.1 major league innings under his belt, a new organization, and maybe most intriguing, a new pitching regime to survey the pros and cons of the stable, Verrett is like a Westworld host in need of programming.
Looking at Verrett’s fastball usage, he already has a pretty strong understanding of what his average 90.5 MPH fastball velocity entails. Without the oomph to work the middle of the plate, Verrett has tried to make his life easier by either running the fastball away from lefties or implementing the backdoor approach to righties.
Verrett only used his two-seamer at a rate of 16.3% last season, a frequency that hopefully jumps in 2017. In comparison, Yovani Gallardo threw his two-seam fastball at 19.7%, though that made up nearly 50% of his fastball usage. Verrett has a pretty good running fastball, and maybe a new set of eyes will figure that out.
The thing with working with someone like Verrett is you hope that without tremendous velocity, he’s able to lean on a pitch or two to work out of trouble. In a best-case scenario, even use his slider, changeup or curveball to aid his essential mission of changing speeds. As evidenced by a 5.20 ERA a season ago, this remains a familiar issue.
This is Verrett’s slider, a pitch that at times can create a solid amount of proper tilt. Naturally, the slider is not only his secondary ground ball inducer, but his most prominent swing and miss pitch. He throws the slider at different speeds, where at times it moves like the one above, and to some degree as more of a frozen changeup.
Mixing in the occasional changeup and curveball, Verrett’s primarily a fastball-slider guy that relies on containing contact to minimize damage. Since 2012, the Orioles have built a contending resume by stockpiling guys like Verrett, whose stuff may not flash, whose FIPs pop off the Fangraphs page, but somehow maintain feasible returns. At the cost of helping the Mets pay for a couple weeks of Yoenis Cespedes’ newest contract, the Orioles got a pitcher they like whose blueprint for success is one they, and only they, seem comfortable putting to use.
Surely Duquette kept tabs on Verrett after having him in spring camp two springs ago, and obviously wanted to add depth to what’s likely to be much of an unchanged pitching staff.
If Verrett’s presence means the departure of Vance Worley, the Orioles save around $2.5 million for a pitcher serving the exact same purpose who is capable of posting similar results. The crucial availability of a minor league option leaves the Orioles some wiggle room in the emergency that Verrett plunders back to his 2016 numbers, and even if he doesn’t suck to the level of first-half Ubaldo Jimenez, rest assured the O’s were keen on acquiring roster versatility.
Who knows. Maybe Roger McDowell and the soon-to-be found pitching coordinator can pick apart the nuances of Verrett’s game and hone in on fortunes unseen, but typically with pitchers such as himself, what you see is what you get.
Taking into account the quality of his arsenal, the lack of swings and misses, the buy-low reward and ultimate placidity of Verrett being in Baltimore, and you have the perfect Oriole of our time.
No one is saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a total Oriole thing.