With the 2022 regular season over, it is that time where we go back and take a look at the players who appeared for the Texas Rangers this past season.
Today, we look at relief pitcher Dennis Santana.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but still...Dennis Santana had a crazy, weirdass year.
Santana had a 5.22 ERA in 63 games, covering 58.2 innings pitched.
BUT! He had a 3.89 xERA and a 3.35 FIP.
What crushed his ERA was that he stranded only 54.3% of baserunners.
BUT! That is due, to a large extent, to the fact that for much of the season, he allowed barely any baserunners, and then for the rest of the season, he allowed a bunch. And when he allowed a bunch he was pitching poorly and allowed a bunch of guys to score, depressing his LOB%.
Dennis Santana’s ERA and OPS allowed by month in 2022:
April — 1.59/433
May — 1.80/307
June — 1.32/510
July — 15.43/.929
August — 9.00/840
September/October — 4.50/686
That’s kind of crazy, no?
When we did our Joe Barlow writeup, we talked about Barlow pitching against the Orioles on July 4 and 5, blowing saves in both games, and that being the start of his season falling apart.
Dennis Santana also pitched in those two games in Baltimore. He was fine on July 4, needing eight pitches to retire two batters. He had major issues on July 5, allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in 0.2 IP. And as with Barlow, that was the start of things going to hell for Santana.
Dennis Santana had a 1.44 ERA after his scoreless July 4 outing, along with a 2.31 FIP. That is, you know, really good. That was over a span of 33 games and 31 innings. He was allowing a .191 BABIP, so yeah, that wasn’t sustainable, but still.
Over his next 13 games, Santana allowed 20 runs in 9.1 IP, walking more batters (12) than he struck out (10), with batters putting up a .395/.526/.512 slash line against him. After the 13th outing, on August 2, Santana was placed on the injured list. In his first game back from the injured list, Santana allowed four runs on five hits in 0.1 IP against Colorado, ballooing his ERA up to 5.93 on the year.
Santana wasn’t bad the rest of the way after that, for what it is worth. He allowed one run in his next seven outings, hit another rough spots where he allowed six runs in three outings, then finished the year with six straight scoreless outings.
But the really, really bad summer stretch resulted in an awful season’s line.
Santana is a sinker/slider guy, and like most sinker/slider guys, he relies on getting ground balls rather than getting a bunch of whiffs. And looking at the Statcast data, he grades out very well on exit velocity, hard hit rate, and the like — hitters last year generally weren’t squaring him up.
But despite the fact that he throws hard — Statcast has him in the 91st percentile in fastball velocity — he doesn’t miss bats. Santana struck out 21.2% of batters, a below average rate, while walking 11% of the batters he faced, roughly a third higher than league average.
Santana has no options remaining, and with a little over three years of service time after 2022, he was also arbitration eligible. Rather than keep him on the 40 man roster all offseason, pay him more than the league minimum (albeit not that much more), and have to either carry him on the active roster in 2023 or jettison him, the Rangers shipped him off to Atlanta in November for the much coveted Filthy Lucre. Atlanta now has a hard throwing righthander who generates ground balls while walking too many guys who they can keep in their pen if they choose, and the Rangers opted to use that 40 man roster spot instead on Josh Sborz, a hard throwing righthander who is out of options and who walks too many batters but strikes out guys rather than getting ground balls.
Fun fact: the most similar pitcher to Dennis Santana through Age 26, according to B-R, is Jesse Chavez. So maybe a decade from now Santana will still be knocking around.