What Adam Ottavino’s signing means for the Yankees and Rockies
Another day, another former Colorado Rockies player exchanging his purple pinstripes for navy blue ones. The Athletic’s Robert Murray reported late Thursday morning that Adam Ottavino has signed with the New York Yankees, and Ken Rosenthal provided the terms: Three years and $27 million.
Those terms should look awfully familiar to Colorado Rockies fans. Both Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee received contracts last offseason identical to what New York gave Adam Ottavino.
At face value, that theoretically should have been doable for the Rockies front office to bring “Otto” back. With more than $100 million currently committed to Shaw, McGee and closer Wade Davis, and taking into account the fact that we still don’t know what’s going to happen with Nolan Arenado, though, the Rockies apparently balked at dishing out a third $27 million deal to a reliever over 30 years old.
The Denver Post‘s Patrick Saunders later reported that the Rockies never gave Ottavino an offer.
Ottavino bolsters an already terrifying New York bullpen, as he’ll be joining the likes of Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman and Zach Britton, among others. Name a stat, and they’ll probably be in the top-10, if not top-5, in baseball. Yankees relievers compiled a 3.38 ERA in 594.2 innings, which was the fourth-best mark in baseball, behind the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics.
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By fWAR? There was no bullpen more valuable than the Yankees’ mark of 9.7, a full win better than the second-best Padres’ 8.7. Fangraphs also records an advanced stat called ERA-. What ERA- does is tell you how much better a pitcher or a pitching staff pitched relative to league-average. It’s essentially park-adjusted ERA on a scale where 100 is league-average, and every point below that is one percent “better than league-average.” The Yankees were owners of the second-best ERA- by relievers with a mark of 78, trailing the Astros’ 74, so that means that their bullpen was 22 percent better than the average bullpen.
They struck out 753 hitters, good for second-most in baseball, and had a WHIP of 1.21, which trailed only Houston (1.06), Oakland (1.18) and San Diego (1.19).
It’s not surprising Ottavino was excited to join them, as well as former Colorado teammates DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki.
What is Ottavino bringing to the Bronx? A career-best 2.43 ERA in 77.2 IP in 2018 with 112 strikeouts, a 0.991 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 193. ERA+ is similar to ERA-, because it’s also on the same scale where 100 is league-average.
According to a post by Beyond the Boxscore’s Bryan Grosnick, where ERA+ differs is it tells you how much better or worse the league was than that pitcher, instead of telling you how much better or worse the pitcher was than the league. Because Ottavino’s ERA+ was 193, that means the league-average ERA was 93 percent higher than Ottavino’s.