Baltimore Orioles pitcher Paul Fry has the potential to be the next LHP breakout in 2020 like John Means did the year before. Fry has several interesting traits that indicate he could breakout.
Baltimore Orioles starter John Means came out of nowhere to throw 155 innings on his way to an All Star selection and a 3.0 fWAR season. Means went from making a LinkedIn profile, ready to walk away from baseball to the Orioles Ace. Now, the Orioles have another unheralded lefty who could become the next John Means.
Allow me to introduce you to former 17th round draft pick, LHP Paul Fry. Fry was acquired by the Orioles in 2017 from the Mariners for international bonus pool money. Fry has thrown 95 innings for the Orioles with a mid 4 ERA, 22% strikeout rate, and 1.0 fWAR.
Fry features a 91 MPH high spin fastball he throws 52% of the time and mixes that with a slider. Fry throws the slider 46% of the time and it’s his best pitch for several reasons. By raw spin rate at 2737 RPMs, Fry’s slider ranks 55th best in all of baseball which compares to Trevor Bauer and Ryan Pressly.
His slider is even more impressive when you look at Statcast’s movement statistics. The pitch has 44 inches of vertical movement and 15.5 inches of horizontal movement. By horizontal movement above average, Fry’s slider has 8.2 inches of horizontal break and ranks 10th among all sliders in MLB and best among all LHPs. Batters only managed a .249 xwOBA against Fry’s slider, put differently, hitters were Zack Cozart against the pitch.
There is one curiosity preventing Fry from starting and it’s not what you think. Fry struggles heavily against lefties. Against righties, Fry struck out 25% and held their slash line .244/.343/.336. Compare that to only an 18% K rate and a much worse (for Fry) .250/.359/.480 against lefty hitters. At a glance, Fry should probably increase his slider usage against lefties since they torched his fastball to a Trout-like .463 xwOBA compared to a much better .269 on his slider.
The best part of rebuilds are the diamonds in the rough you find on your way back to the playoffs. The Orioles found a diamond pitcher last year in John Means and have another potential lefty with Paul Fry. With enough innings and refinement against lefties, Fry has all the makings of John Means 2.0.