Tampa Bay Rays: The Emergence of Yonny Chirinos

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 11: Starting pitcher Yonny Chirinos
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 11: Starting pitcher Yonny Chirinos /

The emergence of a particular Tampa Bay Rays player provides hope for the future during a bleak present.

The Tampa Bay Rays are currently going through a rebuild. They traded away the face of the franchise Evan Longoria, Steven Souza, and Corey Dickerson to NL teams. Rumors continue to fly around the name of ace starting pitcher Chris Archer. Fortunately for Rays fans, a new face around town provides a beacon of hope for the future: Yonny Chirinos.

When someone mentions a pitching prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, most would assume that they are referring to top prospect Brett Honeywell or two-way star Brendan McKay. As a matter of fact, according to MLB Pipeline, they are the only pitching prospects in the top 13 for the Rays. However, Pipeline’s 21st best farm system prospect, Yonny Chirinos, is lighting up the major leagues in the first pro season.

Flexibility on the Mound

Yonny Chirinos first pitched on Easter Sunday in a long reliever role, posting four scoreless frames in a loss to Boston. In that appearance, he allowed just one hit and struck out three in a nearly flawless outing. Due to the Tampa Bay Rays having a three-man rotation, Yonny Chirinos was allowed to start in his next two outings, subsequently going 10.1 innings, allowing only seven hits while striking out nine. These ‘bullpen starts’ have placed Yonny Chirinos in high regard among fans, and have even warranted calls to add him as the fourth starter.

Having Yonny Chirinos as a long reliever and a starter allows Kevin Cash the opportunity to utilize him in the best way possible. If he can do that successfully, the Tampa Bay Rays have a chance to be better than many people projected in 2018.

Lights Out Pitching

Before 2018, Yonny Chirinos had yet to step foot on a major league diamond. Through three games and 14.1 innings, he has yet to allow a run, currently owns a 1.0 WAR, and posts a .698 WHIP.  Those statistics rank first, fourth, and fourth among AL pitchers currently. His 6/1 K/BB ratio is eighth among American League pitchers in 2018.

More from Call to the Pen

Among those who pitch for Tampa, Chirinos has the second-lowest BAA (.167) behind only Blake Snell. Considering that Snell has allowed six runs in 15 innings, the .013 difference in BAA is not significant.

It’s easily argued that Chirinos is the best pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays this year. He is the only pitcher with more than 1 IP to not allow a run for the 3-11 squad. Besides Snell, the other two rotation pieces, Archer and Jacob Faria, have high ERA’s. Respectively, they tally up to 7.84 and 8.18 so far this season. He also has one of the lowest GO/AO ratios, with his being 17/11.

The ratio measures the number of groundouts against the number of flyouts a pitcher accumulates. Yonny Chirinos, therefore, has a higher likelihood to created double plays than his fellow teammates. He also has the lowest OBP of all pitchers with more than one inning pitched.

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The statistics and his in-game performance show that Yonny Chirinos has been dominant. The Rays have gotten ample opportunity to look at Yonny Chirinos and his future with the team. If he continues his success, he could easily be a cornerstone for the future. Should prospects like Brett Honeywell and Brendan McKay be successful, the Tampa Bay Rays will be a team to watch out for in the future.