Earned run average (ERA) is probably the most prominent pitching statistic referenced by fans and media, and for good reason. Despite its flaws, it still does a pretty solid job of telling the story on how effective most pitchers have been, even in the age of advanced stats. However, ERA for relievers can be misleading. Relievers often get pulled in the middle of innings, leaving inherited runners on base that can score and be charged as earned runs to the original pitcher. Additionally, due to the lower amount of innings pitched relative to starters, one bad outing can absolutely destroy a reliever’s ERA for the whole season. In other words, what I am trying to say is this: when you evaluate Jace Fry, a reliever, his 4.58 ERA should not matter.
Fry’s ERA is misleading. Fry owns a 2.44 FIP, or fielding independent pitching, which is an ERA-substitute that attempts to judge pitchers for what only they can control. His peripherals, which may be the most important set of statistics for a reliever, are incredible. They include rates of 5.9 hits allowed per 9 innings, 0.5 home runs allowed per 9 innings, 12.2 strikeouts per 9 innings, and 3.6 walks per 9 innings. While his walk rate isn’t quite elite, it is perfectly fine for someone who allows minimal hits paired with a high strikeout rate. In addition to these peripherals, the left-handed Fry has allowed a .111 batting average and .343 OPS to left-handed hitters this year.
Based on peripherals alone, it would seem as though the White Sox have struck gold with a shutdown left-handed reliever in Fry, who does not become a free agent until after the 2023 season. However, relievers are the most volatile players in the sport, and it is quite common to see fluky seasons from them. The good news for Fry is that there are signs that this is sustainable. While he does not get by on pure stuff like a lot of relievers do nowadays, Fry, a converted starter, has a deceptive delivery and throws five pitches for strikes consistently. He throws an effective four-seam fastball, sinker, curveball, slider, and change-up. His ability to throw all of his pitches with solid control makes it tough for batters to sit on a certain pitch from him. Thus, his production may be sustainable as he does not rely on one pitch like many young relievers do.
I do believe that Jace Fry can be an effective left handed specialist out of the bullpen for his career. I think he has the potential to be a lot more, and he should absolutely be given a shot to be a multi-inning reliever, such as how the Brewers are using Josh Hader this season. At the very least, if Fry stays healthy, the White Sox may have found one of their bullpen pieces for the foreseeable future.
Featured Photo: Chicago Sun-Times