Through this offseason, we’re looking at all 316 players to have appeared at any level of Houston’s system this season.
Ryne Stanek is the 130th chapter in this series. A six-foot-four, 226 lb. right-handed relief pitcher from St. Louis, MO, Stanek was initially chosen in the third round of the 2010 draft by the Seattle Mariners. After instead matriculating to the University of Arkansas, he was again drafted. His gamble paid off, and the Tampa Bay Rays took him 29th off the board.
Stanek signed to a deal that included a $1,755,000 bonus. He got to the majors with Tampa Bay in 2017, and was traded to the Miami Marlins with Jesús Sánchez for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards. In Stanek’s four pre-Astros major league seasons, he was 2-7 with one save, a 4.00 ERA (with a 4.37 FIP), a 1.321 WHIP, and 10.9 K/9 over 173 1⁄3 innings. After the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, Miami granted Stanek’s free agency.
The Astros signed with the Astros on January 7, 2021. In that season he went 3-5 with a 3.42 ERA in an American League-fourth 72 appearances. He posted a 1.215 with 10.9 K/9 covering 68 1⁄3 innings, and held opponents to a slashline of .186/.303/.312.
In 2022, Stanek would set a record for the Astros pitcher with the lowest season-long ERA with a mark of 1.15. His FIP, at 3.02, points out that he was probably the recipient of a lot of good defense and an extraordinary amount of luck. Nevertheless, the record counts.
Stanek was used in mostly mid- to high-leverage situations, with an average 1.39 aLI at the time of his addition into the game. He returned 0.787 of win probability through the season, which shows he mostly produced as we would have hoped. On July 27, he struck out the side in a perfect eighth inning of a 4-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics. On September 9, he again struck out the side in a perfect eighth as the Astros dropped a 4-3 decision to the Texas Rangers. Stanek went 2-1 with one save in 2022 through the regular season with a 1.226 WHIP, a 10.2 K/9, and an opposing slash of .188/.299/.257.
Stanek’s .195 XBA ranked in the 91st percentile of major league pitchers, and his 98.3 MPH average fastball put him in the 97th. He also graded out as elite in missing barrels (95th percentile) and in whiffs (94th percentile). He uses his fastball 58 percent of the time, his best pitch by BA at an opposing mark of .168. From an extra-base hit standpoint, his best was his split-finger, issued at 89 MPH and yielding an opposing 3° launch angle and a .208 SLG. He used his change-of-pace slider 18.5 percent of the time, a pitch with an elite 4.4 inches of vertical break above and beyond the average major league slider.
Stanek is arbitration 3 this year, his last before a shot at “the big one,” meaning his best chance at a Montero-esque deal. With that in mind, I expect he’ll put together a season comparable to his 2022.