FanPost

The Wild, Wacky, and Confusing Season of Paul Fry

The previous month has been something of a mixed bag for the Orioles. On one hand, 2021 first round selection Colton Cowser is off to a torrid start in the Florida Complex League, hitting .500 with a .650 OBP [1]. The farm system received high remarks from Baseball America, with the publication ranking it the 2nd best farm system in the majors [2]. Cedric Mullins has continued his breakout season, and has a chance to finish 3rd place in MVP voting behind 2 way phenom Shohei Ohtani and former generational hitting talent Vlad Guerrero Jr.

However, for those positives, including the on the field production of Mullins, the rest of the on the field performance hasn't reached his heights. A current 12 game losing streak, one that continued with last night's 9-2 loss to the AL East leading Rays. In that game, one player did something he hadn't done all season. That player was Paul Fry, who surrendered his first 2 home runs, one of which was an inside-the-park home run against Brett Phillips.

"So it's August, and he only now just gave up his first 2 home runs. He must be having a good season," you might be thinking. And well, the peripherals would support that. Fry's FIP even after last night's 2 home runs surrendered sits at 3.38 [3]. He has surrendered only 34 hits in 44.2 innings [3], striking out 58 in that span. During MASN's broadcast of the game last night, the crew showcased a stat that Fry had stranded 17 out of the 22 runners he inherited, a slightly above average number.

All these statistics sound good, but as you might have guessed by the title, Paul Fry's season has not been so straightforward. After last night's debacle, Fry now has an ERA of 5.44, over 2 runs higher than his FIP. So, what gives? Well, the most obvious problem has been command, with his walk% ranking in the 4th percentile according to Baseball Savant [4], with the chase rate against him ranking way down in the 1st percentile [4]. Batters just are not chasing Fry's pitches, with the whiff% of his slider dropping from 48.4% in 2020, to 33.1% this season [4].

Some of Fry's problems, however, have been exasperated by the lack of shutdown relief from the rest of the pen. In outings on August 4, 6 and 8, Fry left 8 runners on base combined credited to him. All 8 of those runners came around to score, with Dillon Tate being responsible each time. This has led to a left on base percentage of 62.3% for Fry [5], well below league average. Sometimes, even when a pitcher works himself into a jam, his teammates will pick him up and get key outs. This has not happened for Fry, and as a result, his ERA has ballooned from 3.24 after an August 2 outing, to its present 5.44 number [6].

This is not to excuse Fry, or say that he is not at fault for his inflated ERA. The reason those runners were able to score in the first place is that Fry allowed them to reach base. Fry's problem with walks has definitely played a role in his ballooning ERA. However, whereas some bullpens are able to pick up each other, strand runners, and keep ERAs down, the O's pen has not been able to do that for Fry. This has made his actual performance massively deviate from the metrics.




Sources:
[1] https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/league.cgi?id=4f24003b
[2] https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2021/08/16/orioles-farm-system-ranked-no-2-by-baseball-america/
[3] https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/f/frypa01.shtml
[4] https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/paul-fry-643316?stats=statcast-r-pitching-mlb
[5] https://www.fangraphs.com/players/paul-fry/15832/stats?position=P
[6] https://www.espn.com/mlb/player/gamelog/_/id/33909/paul-fry

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