Yankees are getting unbelievable value out of bullpen arm Lou Trivino

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Aug 21, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Lou Trivino (58) celebrates his save with catcher Jose Trevino (39) against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning the game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have had a strong month of September, and while yesterday snapped a 7 game-winning streak for the Bronx Bombers, they’ve played a lot better. They score more runs, they get good outings from their starters, and they have a strong bullpen.

In spite of injuries to key members of the bullpen, unexpected heroes have stepped up. Lou Trivino is one of those unsung arms, as very quietly he’s posted the best ERA among relievers on the Yankees (1.89) since being traded to New York.

A throw-in in the Frankie Montas trade, he’s become one of their best and most important deadline acquisitions for a bullpen that sorely needed the depth.

Lou Trivino’s Slider Dominance

David Cone talks frequently about the Yankees’ fixation on sweeping sliders, and for good reason. We’ve discussed sliders with Clay Holmes and Clarke Schmidt before, but to summarize:

  • There are two subsets of sliders, Gyro Sliders, and Sweeping Sliders
  • Gyro Sliders have greater velocity, more depth
  • Sweeping Sliders have greater glove-side break, more “whirly”
  • Sliders are being used as a primary pitch more often in baseball

Lou Trivino throws a sweeping slider, thus, the pitch sits at 81.8 MPH (Sweeper average is 81.5). He generates a whopping 17 inches of horizontal sweep on it, the 10th most among all qualified sliders. He also boasts a sinker with strong run (16.3″), but it doesn’t get great results (.406 BA).

As a Yankee, his sinker has been closer to league average, but that could be chalked up to lower usage. The sinker is thrown with good velocity (95.8 MPH), but as with most sinkers, it grades out as average in the Stuff+ department, at a 102.1 Stuff+. It’s a show pitch, but it does a great job at being a show pitch. Let’s take a look at the at-bat against Whit Merrifield last night.

Why is Whit Merrifield chasing at so many two-strike sliders out of the zone when he knows they’re probably Trivino’s go-to pitch for a strikeout? It’s simple: he can’t tell which is which until it’s far too late.

On the left is the first pitch sinker Trivino threw. On the right is the final pitch of the at-bat, a slider out of the zone Merrifield chases for a strikeout. They are at nearly identical heights as they begin their descent in flight, and at this point in time, you have to make a decision on “swing” or take.” Merrifield spoiled a 1-2 slider, and he’s on his backfoot trying to protect with two strikes. He prides himself in a low K%, with the 15th lowest mark since 2020. Getting that vertical height to line up means hitters have to guess horizontally, and when they guess wrong, it results in a whiff.

His most used pitch in September is his slider (38.5%), and the K% is at a whopping 35.1%, while batters, and it excites me for how he’ll be used in the playoffs.

How Should the Yankees Use Lou Trivino in October?

I see Lou Trivino as an excellent option in those middle-leverage outings, situations where you the part of the order is heavily right-handed, or to follow a potential opener. He can get a double play, a big strikeout, or lengthen the bullpen in a pinch.

Trivino isn’t an elite reliever, and there’s that tier above him in the pecking order with arms like Loaisiga, Effross, Holmes, and Peralta being considered A-tier relievers, but Trivino fills in nicely as middle of the bullpen guy. He’s been one of the best bullpen acquisitions anyone made at the deadline, and he hopes to continue his string of success into October.

He’s closed before, and he closed a game for the Yankees already. His bullpen versatility makes his value even greater, and as an arm, many thought little of, he’s made a huge impact on this team.

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