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An Astros’ reliever has one of the best pitches in the Majors

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Ryne Stanek his fooling opposition with his big-time splitter, which has become an elite offering.

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

As our Cody Poage exposed more than a week ago, Ryne Stanek’s splitter is FOR REAL. Now the MLB sample size is a bit bigger and —guess what?— the veteran righty keeps flashing and dominating using that weapon. And not only that, but it’s also one of the best pitches in Major League Baseball.

Stanek has increased the usage of his split-finger steadily over the years since he made his MLB debut:

2017: 9.5%

2018: 26.6%

2019: 38.1%

2020: 29.4%

2021: 35.1%

And there’s a reason for that: PURE DOMINANCE. So far, six at-bats have finished with the splitter, good for four strikeouts, zero hits, and an overwhelming 55.6 whiff percentage. That whiff% is the highest for any splitter in the game in 2021 (minimum 10 PAs).

Taking into account the minimum 10 plate appearances, that Stanek’s split-finger delivery is one of only 17 pitchers this year in Major League Baseball with 0% in terms of hard-hit percentage. In that list, you can find Diego Castillo and Carlos Rodón’s slider, Yu Darvish’s curveball, and José Alvarado’s cutter, to name a few.

In case you missed them, here’s a beautiful clip of every strikeout by Ryne Stanek with his splitter...

Stanek’s splitter has become so good that he’s almost abandoned his slider, which went from being 38.1% of his pitches to 15.5% this campaign. He’s has a great 1-2 with his 96.3-mph fastball in the zone (60.4%) and his split finger, which he throws at 88.4 usually out of the strike zone (61.8%).

It’s still a small sample size for that, but take a look at this beauty... Stanek HardHit% by pitch this season...

Baseball Savant

An impressive stat about this pitch and how Stanek uses it: When he’s ahead in the count, he throws this delivery 50 percent of times (last year that % was at 29.4), according to Baseball Savant.

The splitter has helped Stanek reinvent himself and take a second breath for his career. So far, he’s off to a great start (7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K) as one of the Astros’ new relievers, basically thanks to his marvelous weapon: the split finger. Don’t be shocked if he becomes a true late-inning option for Dusty Baker sooner than later.