clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Season That Was: Erik Swanson

A look at Swanson’s 2023 season.

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Blue Jays picked up Erik Swanson (along with Adam Macko) in a trade with the Mariners for Teoscar Hernandez. It was one of those trade-an-everyday player-for-a-reliever deals that I generally hate.

But Teoscar was going into his last season of team control, and the team wanted to improve their defense and bullpen.

Swanson was coming off a season where he pitched in a career-high 57 games and a career-low ERA of 1.68. We wondered if he could do much the same for us.

Standard Pitching
Age W L ERA G GS GF SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ FIP
29 4 2 2.97 69 0 13 4 66.2 52 22 22 8 21 0 75 0 0 0 262 143 3.51
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2023.

Baseball Reference has him at a 1.4 WAR (1.7 last year). Fangraphs 0.9 (1.7 last year), giving him a value of $7.3 million to the Jays.

Erik had a .278 BABIP (down from .295 last year). 82.5% of baserunners were left on base (85.2% last year).

Swanson’s FIP was 3.51, and xFIP 3.81.

His line drive rate was 14.6% (down from 20.3 last year). Ground ball 39.6% (up from 32.5 last year). Fly ball rate is 45.7% (down from 47.2 last year). And 10.7% of his fly balls left the part (last year, it was 5.2).

Erik’s strikeout rate was 28.6% (down from 34.0), and his walk rate was 8.0% (up from last year’s 4.9%).

His soft contact rate was 12.7% (down from 29.6), and hard contact was 32.5% (up from 26.4).

Swanson was better vs. left-handed batters (.198/.280/.330) than right-handed batters (.231/.280/.381). In his career he’s had pretty much the same numbers vs. LHB as RHB.

He had a higher ERA at home (3.09 home, 2.84 road), but batters hit better against him on the road (.244/.291/.387) than at home (.190/.269/.331).

He had a better ERA in the second half (2.63) than in the first (3.16), but batters hit him much better in the second half (.275/.320/.352) than in the first (.181/.256/.362).

Swanson by month:

  • April: 1-0, 8 holds, 1.32 ERA in 14 games. Batters hit .093/.204/.186 with 1 home run, 6 walks and 19 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.
  • May: 1-2, 4 holds, 5.40 ERA in 11 games. Batters hit .209/.320/.465 with 3 home runs, 7 walks, and 14 strikeouts in 11.2 innings.
  • June: 0-0, 8 hold, 1 save, 2.08 ERA in 13 games. Batters hit .159/.178/.273 with 1 home run, 1 walk, and 12 strikeouts in 13.0 innings.
  • July: 0-0, 1 save, 6 holds, 1 blown save, 6.10 ERA in 14 games. Batters hit .378/.429/.556 with 1 home run, 4 walks and 10 strikeouts in 10.1 innings.
  • August 1-0, 4 holds 0.96 ERA in 11 games. Batters hit .212/.235/.212 with 0 home runs, 1 walk and 12 strikeouts in 9.1 innings.
  • September: 1-0, 1 hold, 1 blown save, 2.08 ERA in 9 games. Batters hit .250/.294/.438 with 2 home runs, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts in 8.2 innings.

Swanson had 1 game with more than 2 earned runs allowed, 5 games with 2 earned allowed, 8 games with 1 earned, and 55 games with no earned runs.

The Jays were 44-25 in games Erik pitched.

Days of rest:

  • 0 days: 2.87 ERA in 17 games.
  • 1 day: 2.78 ERA in 23 games.
  • 2 days: 5.25 ERA in 13 games.
  • 3 days: 2.25 ERA in 8 games.
  • 4 days: 0.00 ERA in 2 games.
  • 5 days: 2.25 ERA in 4 games.
  • 6+ days: 0.00 in 2 games.

One of the few who did well without having a day off.

Erik had 29 holds and 2 blown saves (one that he got the win on).


He averaged 93.7 mph on his fastball, the same as in 2022. But he threw it less this season (34.7% of the time, compared to 54.8 last year). He threw many more split-fingered pitches (47.5%, from 25.3).

Swanson is under team control through the 2025 season. We needed another good arm in the pen, I still think that Teoscar was too much to pay for him, but I’m glad we have him.

It wasn’t quite as good a season as he had in 2022, but he was our number 2 guy out of the pen until we picked up Jordan Hicks. Swanson gave up more hard contact and less soft contact and gave up a lot more line drives.

He was excellent with RISP, holding batters to a .171/.247/.257 line.

We asked:

  • What inning will Swanson get the most work? 51% of us were right in saying the eighth.
  • Who leads the Jays in holds this year? 30% were right picking Swanson.
  • If the over/under on Swanson’s strikeout rate is 30%, I’d take the. 43% were right picking the under (he was just under).