Based on ZiPS projections, Enyel De Los Santos is expected to finish 2023 with the following stats:
42 G, 5 GS, 62.3 IP, 26.5% K%, 9.3% BB%, 4.33 ERA, 0.4 fWAR
Read what our writers think, then vote in the poll below and drop your own opinions in the comments and on the Covering the Corner Discord.
Merritt Rohlfing’s prediction: OVER
Honestly, this is just a case of “will he actually pitch 62 innings?”
The Guardians only got 53 out of Enyel De Los Santos in 2022, and he had comfortably his best season as a professional. He outperformed his career ERA by over a run and a half, and his career FIP by a similar margin. He set personal records in hit, homer, and walk rates and logged his second-best strikeout rate since he debuted. All this while pitching nearly as many innings in one year than he ever had with the Pirates and Phillies combined.
Perhaps it’s the magic of the Cleveland Pitching Factory showing its mark, perhaps it’s just a young guy maturing and figuring out his place, or maybe it was just the fickle ebbs and flows that are inherent in relief pitching, but he was pretty good.
That’s the key to it though, he was merely pretty good. He was still the fourth-best reliever in the Guards’ bullpen by basically every metric, and while he throws a nice, solid four-seamer and really became a fastball/slider guy in 2022, these days averaging 95 or so is merely what is expected out of relievers. He’s certainly an interesting case with that pairing, considering his slider breaks 5.8 inches worse than average while his four-seamer has 3.5 inches of horizontal break better than average — he’s definitely an “aggregate” pitcher rather than a man with one huge pitch.
On top of that, and despite the good results, De Los Santos was also in the sixth percentile across baseball in both average exit velocity and hard-hit rate and the 14th percentile in exit velocity. So while he did mitigate batters actually getting the bat to the ball, when it did happen it ended up being loud and damaging. He wasn’t overly lucky — he posted a .280 BABIP in 2022 — but those are still scary numbers when his allowing just two loud sounds can result in a complete shift in the makeup of whatever game he appears in.
De Los Santos is precisely the fine type of reliever that should be the fourth or fifth option in a bullpen. He’s in that position in the ‘pen where he’s either a core pitcher or one of the other guys. For one as strong as Cleveland’s was last year and as good as they are at turning guys like Sam Hentges into relief aces, it wouldn’t be surprising if he got overtaken by a young lightning thrower from the farm. This is a team that did roll out Bryan Shaw for 58 innings last year though, so there’s always space for garbage at the very least. He’s gone, and someone has to pick that up somewhere.
De Los Santos has certainly earned some of those innings, and it’s nearly impossible to be as bad as Shaw was, so as long as he gets the chances he’ll definitely match or top the 1.0 WAR he logged in 2022. Measuring relievers in WAR is stupid generally, but that’s what we’re doing here, so I think it’s likely he makes it.
Will Enyel De Los Santos finish with an fWAR over or under 0.4?
This poll is closed
Monday’s player: Tyler Freeman