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Jeurys Familia has been on another level with the A’s

Since he was traded, a lot of underlying peripherals surged in the right direction.

San Francisco Giants v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Trading for relievers can tend to be risky. You’ll see moves that prove to make big impacts for contenders, or ones that flail and contribute to failure. The Nationals, who flipped two of their top prospects for Kelvin Herrera, have seen him struggle, recently placing him on the disabled list with rotator cuff issues.

On the flip side for this piece, I wanted to point out a team that has done a terrific job buying relievers at a reasonable price. The Oakland A’s added two more-than-serviceable relievers in Jeurys Familia and Fernando Rodney recently, improving a bullpen that already ranked sixth in bullpen fWAR in baseball.

The reliever in I wanted to highlight is Jeurys Familia. A rental reliever with a long track record, it didn’t really matter how Familia performed in a A’s uniform, as long as he was at least average, considering the low cost to get him. It’s been a short stint in the green and yellow so far, but along with the likes of Lou Trivino, Yusmeiro Petit, and Emilio Pagan, Familia has stabilized the bridge to All-Star closer Blake Treinen even more.

It’s when I dove deeper in to what Familia has done in his 10 innings with the A’s that I became intrigued. In a small sample size, he’s seen a strikeout surge, an improvement in the control department, and a surge in whiffs. Everything is heading the right direction.

The jump in swinging-strike rate is the main thing that stands out here. In reliever terms, Familia has been nothing special in that category in recent history. Hovering around average to slightly above-average the past two seasons, his 12 percent mark ranked 79th out of 164 qualified relievers in swinging-strike rate during the first half. In the second half (which perfectly lines up his time with the A’s), his 21.9 percent rate has ranked second out of 186 qualified relievers.

The first thing I looked to was the pitch distribution, which has seemed to be mixed up a bit post-trade.

Jeurys Familia Pitch Usage By Team

Pitch Type Mets Athletics
Pitch Type Mets Athletics
Four-Seamer 14.7% 10.6%
Sinker 55.5% 49.7%
Slider 25.0% 39.1%
Splitter 4.8% 0.7%

There’s been less of an emphasis on the fastball for Familia, putting more use into the slider. The results are paying off.

Jeurys Familia Pitch Results By Team

Pitch Type wOBA with Mets wOBA with Athletics
Pitch Type wOBA with Mets wOBA with Athletics
Four-Seamer 0.237 0.173
Sinker 0.355 0.196
Slider 0.147 0.105
Splitter 0.138 --
Baseball Savant

A change in slide location has been key for Familia. In the first half, Familia ranked 21st out of 186 pitchers (minimum 150 results) in average horizontal location. In the second half, he’s ranked 92nd out of 117 pitchers (minimum 50 results).



And Familia seem to be showing off some of his old fastball velocity, bumping it up from 95-96 to 97-98.

The Athletics have built a quietly stacked bullpen. The bridge to one of the better closers in Blake Treinen is near-elite, running out arms Fernando Rodney, Shawn Kelley, and Lou Trivino to go along with Jeurys Familia. They add in two long relievers in Yusmerio Petit and Emilio Pagan, while throwing in a more than serviceable LOOGY in Ryan Buchter. If Familia looks as good as he has in first few weeks with the A’s, they will have put together a pitching staff built for postseason baseball.

Patrick Brennan loves to research pitchers and minor leaguers with data. You can find additional work of his at Royals Review and Royals Farm Report. You can also find him on Twitter @paintingcorner.