The Astros began this offseason with some needs to address before the 2021 campaign, and one of them is their bullpen. Recently, they began doing so by acquiring righties Ryne Stanek and —more recently— former Dodger Pedro Báez.
Speaking of Báez, he’s projected to be a massive late-inning weapon for Dusty Baker this year. And for you to feel safe with him on the mound, we’re brought to you three split stats that have defined Báez’s MLB career.
1. High Leverage
One of the most important signs for any effective reliever is whether he can handle high-pressure situations or not (to understand leverage index, you can click here). Báez has done that better than many.
His career slash line in environments of high leverage is at .182/.253/.348, with a .601 OPS. He’s racked up almost twice as many strikeouts (106) than hits (69) and has only 30 bases on balls across almost 400 plate appearances (392).
2. RISP and bases loaded
Báez will probably be used in situations of danger, when the Astros need to hold a lead and leave opponents’ men on base, for example. And he’s good at that, too. In fact, he seems to have nerves of steel.
In his career, the Dominican righty owns a .201/.283/.367 opponent slash line with runners in scoring position. But it gets better: That line goes downhill to .146/.245/.268 when he faces a bases-loaded jam, with only ONE grand slam across 49 plate appearances. Besides, you can add the fact that, again, he has more strikeouts than hits in both scenarios.
3. Better against lefties
You can argue the Astros didn’t have enough lefties in their bullpen last year, and that could be a problem when you’re facing a lineup stacked with dangerous left-handed hitters. But Báez can help with that as well.
The 32-year-old veteran, who averages 94.4 MPH on his heater, has been almost invisible to lefties, with a career .181/.264/.320 slash line. That dominance has been steady for the last three years, a span in which left-handers have hit for a .161 batting average with three home runs off Báez across 247 total trips to the plate.
BONUS: Pedro Báez was born to pitch in the eighth inning. As a setup guy for the Dodgers, pitching in the eighth, he owns a 2.95 lifetime ERA in 128 1⁄3 episodes. And guess what? The Astros’ pitchers had the second-worst opponent OPS in the American League in the eighth frame: .788, only nine points behind the Boston Red Sox (.797, worst).