Image credit: (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
In July, Rangers righthander Emiliano Teodo made a start on the road against the Winston-Salem Dash. He went 3.2 innings, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, including a home run. He struck out five and walked nobody.
Something else stuck out that night, too. Despite throwing his fastball in the upper 90s and touching triple-digits several times, he didn’t get a single whiff on the pitch. It didn’t get crushed, but hitters were making enough contact to extend at-bats and eventually bounce him from the game after 72 pitches.
To that point, Teodo had worked to a 4.88 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP with 24 hits and 15 walks in 24 innings with just 27 strikeouts. After that start, the Rangers decided to make a change. They had Teodo scrap his four-seam fastball and replace it with a sinker.
The results were stark.
In the 37.2 innings after the change, Teodo’s ERA and WHIP were 4.30 and 1.25, and he racked up 57 strikeouts against 18 walks, good for marks of 13.8 and 4.4 walks per nine innings, a decrease of 1.2 walks per nine innings and and an increase of 4.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
The numbers under the hood showed big-time success as well.
Against Teodo’s four-seam fastball, hitters produced an .987 OPS, a whiff rate of 18.1% and a strikeout rate of 9.5%. Against the two-seamer, the OPS dropped to .778, and the whiff and strikeout rates jumped to 38% and 32.3%, respectively.
In the Arizona Fall League, Teodo’s resurgence has continued.
In six shutout innings over four outings, the flame-throwing righthander has allowed just one hit, walked nobody and struck out a dozen.
In a recent outing at Salt River Fields, where Hawk-eye data is available, Teodo needed just 13 pitches to retire the side, including two strikeouts. He threw nine sinkers that outing, with an average velocity of 99 mph and a peak of 100. Hitters missed the pitch all three times they swung.
Teodo will face a big test in 2024, when he reaches the upper levels for the first time. His new pitch might help him continue giving hitters a sinking feeling when they step into the box.