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The season that was: Joe Biagini

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A look back at Biagini’s 2018 season

Tornoto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Joe Biagini has had an interesting time of it over the past three years.

We picked him up in the Rule 5 draft before the 2016 season. And he had a surprisingly good season. He started the season in the back of the bullpen and worked his way to high leverage innings as the season went on.

In 2017, the question was would he be a reliever or a starter. He was both. He wasn’t as successful the year before.

This year? I figured the plan was to have him start in Buffalo and be ready when we needed help in the rotation. And that’s more or less what happened, but he didn’t last long in the Jays rotation.

He started the year in Buffalo. Got called up for a spot start April 17th. Then again to make another spot start on May 3rd and then called up for good on May 11.

Standard Pitching
W L ERA G GS GF IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP ERA+ FIP Awards
4 7 6.00 50 4 7 72.0 96 50 48 14 24 53 6 8 70 5.47
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2018.

His first 4 appearances were starts. After that he stayed in the pen.

Joe had a -0.4 bWAR and -0.5 fWAR giving him a value of -4.4 million to the Jays.

He had a 5.47 FIP and a 4.71 xFIP, both better than his ERA.

As a starter, Joe had a 7.71 ERA, batters hit .329/.411/.494.

As a reliever. 5.40 ERA, batters hit 321/.374/.541.

He was equally, bad either way.

Batters had a .355 BABIP off him (up from .305 last year).

Compared to 2017 his strikeout rate was down (16.2%, from 18.8) and so was his walk rate (7.3%, from 8.1).

Joe gave up more line drives (20.0%, from 17.6), fewer ground balls (47.9%, from 55.7) and more fly balls (32.1%, from 26.8). More of his fly balls left the park (18.2%, from 15.2).

He gave up more hard contact (36.7%, up from 30.3) and more soft contact (21.6, from 18.6).

He was better against RHB (.315/.373/.500) than LHB (.333/.397/.563), not that you would want him out there against anyone.

His ERA was worse at home (6.99) than on the road (4.93), but batters hit him about the same either way (.312/.386/.548 home, .336/.382/.519 road).

Joe was better in the first half (5.65 ERA, .307/.367/.486) than the second half (6.52, .347/.409/.593).

Biagini by month:

  • April: 4.76 ERA, batters hit .261/.393/.436 in 1 start, 5.2 innings.
  • May: 9.82 ERA, batters hit .385/.444/.631 in 5 games, 3 starts, 14.2 innings.
  • June: 4.02 ERA. batters hit .333/.361/.507 in 13 games, 15.2 innings.
  • July: 5.11 ERA, batters hit .217/.250/.478 in 12 games, 12.1 innings.
  • August: 4.76 ERA, batters hit .318/.384/.500 in 12 games, 17 innings.
  • September: 8.10 ERA, batters hit .393/.486/.571 in 7 games, 6.2 innings.

It was a fairly consistent season, just not consistently good.

He was very good with RISP, .198/.282/.264, which surprises me. I always thought that when got base runners he seemed to lose it, but I guess not.

The Jays were 19-31 in games he appeared in, but then we were using him in lost causes for the most part.


I don’t know what was going on with him. His velocity, by FanGraphs, was much the same as the last two years. He didn’t walk many (but then he was being hit so hard, who would wait around for a walk?).

FanGraphs says he threw far fewer fastballs than the past (17.0%, down from 52.8). And he threw a slider (43.4% of the time), which he hadn’t used in the past. Might be best to stop that.

It always seems to be that he’ll be going along fine and and then, something will happen, a bloop hit, an error or something and then he falls apart. But then, maybe he’s just bad and it isn’t anything to do with his head.

I really don’t know what his future with the team looks like. He’s on the edge of being arbitration eligible. I’m not sure if the team really would want to pay him anything over the league minimum.

I think it is likely that Joe is a reliever going forward, but there will be a lot of changes in the Jays pen this winter, will Joe find a chair when the music stops. Personally, I honestly don’t think it matters if he relieves or starts. If he throws as badly as he did this year, it certainly doesn’t matter.

He has options, so he could be looking at another season of driving back and forth between Toronto and Buffalo.

He seems like a likable guy, I want him to have success. And he throws hard, so he should be able to find success. Should and will are two different things.