Yankees’ overlooked free agent signing could use new pitch to have a career revival

MLB: New York Yankees at San Francisco Giants
Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Poteet was signed to an MLB contract this past offseason, with reports surfacing that the Yankees liked his profile a lot and believed he was a legitimate MLB arm. The right-hander had spent his career with the Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals, and entering this year he was looking to bounce back after recovering from Tommy John Surgery. He hadn’t had much success at the Major League level, as while he boasted an interesting arsenal, the lack of a reliable breaking ball made it hard to get him through a lineup three times consistently.

Last night he fired quality innings, allowing just two earned runs and striking out six batters in the process, and the pitch he utilized more was the sweeper. The Yankees are one of the best organizations in the league at developing those big loopy sliders, and Poteet might be the next arm to leap forward with the new pitch.

Cody Poteet’s Joining the Yankees’ Sweeper Movement

MLB: New York Yankees at San Francisco Giants
Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Through Cody Poteet’s two big-league seasons with the Miami Marlins, Cody Poteet had a 4.45 ERA and 5.15 ERA, as he walked many batters, allowed many home runs, and couldn’t pick up many strikeouts. That’s a terrible combination of traits for any pitcher, and it stemmed from an incomplete arsenal due to the lack of a breaking ball that could put right-handed hitters away.

His changeup and two fastballs would serve as a strong foundation for the Yankees to work with, as they would try to get Poteet to work on a sweeping slider to try and give him the final pitch for his repertoire. This slider wasn’t a pitch we saw much of in his first start, relying on the fastball-changeup combination to get the Guardians to generate weak contact and keep his outing as efficient as possible.

Against the Giants, we would see his sweeper usage spike to 21.8%, as the right-hander would utilize his arsenal pretty evenly in this outing. With some whiffs and strikeouts in some key spots, Cody Poteet was able to turn in another strong start for the Yankees, and this pitch could be a massive difference-maker for him as he fills in for the injured Clarke Schmidt.

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His sweeper has good movement horizontally, and it’s an offering that he’s throwing essentially for the first time this season. Adding a plus breaking ball to a repertoire that has two solid fastballs and a good changeup can be a game-changer for any pitcher, as it adds a movement profile that differs dramatically from anything else he throws. Deception is a core concept when it comes to pitching, but the most surprising thing about this sweeper is how well he’s executing it already.

Cody Poteet is landing his sweeper away to righties consistently, earning a 115 Location+ grade on the pitch as a result of his feel for this pitch. It doesn’t look like a work-in-progress offering, rather it has the makings of a slider he can attack right-handed batters with consistently in two-strike counts to get a strikeout and put them away. He has a 2.45 ERA and 21.4% K-BB% in his two starts, two marks that I’m confident won’t hold up, but he can still be a very valuable part of this team.

Depth is key to any rotation, and Cody Poteet’s job is to help keep the Yankees afloat as they’re down one of their best starters. Perhaps he performs at a level that allows him to stay on the roster as a reliever late in the season, as having a multi-inning relief weapon in the postseason could prove extremely valuable. It’s far too early into the season to proclaim that Poteet is another success story, but there are tangible changes that could lead him to become another feather on Matt Blake and Sam Briend’s caps.

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