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The White Sox have themselves one nasty reliever

Jace Fry has been a relief stud for the White Sox this year even though he’s flown pretty far under-the-radar.

Oakland Athletics v Chicago White Sox - Game Two Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

In recent seasons, the intentions and direction of the Chicago White Sox have been clear: trade off major league assets for player(s) that could possibly help in the future, while getting a look at possible future assets at the major league level.

It remains to be seen how well this will work out, but they’ve shown more commitment to rebuilding than anyone we’ve seen in recent history.

Shuffling hitters, starters, and relievers between triple-A and the big leagues has been more than a common occurrence. Some have shown they deserve an extended look at the highest level (Daniel Palka, Nicky Delmonico, Matt Davidson), while some have floundered in their opportunities thus far (Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Adam Engel). But among the young standouts, one player that’s recently caught my eye is left-handed reliever Jace Fry. With all the big names getting most of the love and attention in this White Sox rebuild, Fry has perhaps performed the best in his given role. With a quick glance, you’ll see he’s been quite good this year, as his ranks among 158 relievers with 40 innings this year go as...

  • FIP: 6th
  • xFIP: 6th
  • SIERA: 10th
  • K-BB%: 12th
  • HR/9: 20th
  • Hard-Hit%: 8th
  • SwStr%: 21st
  • O-Contact%: 14th

the 25-year-old Fry first hit the radar after spending three seasons as a starter at Oregon State, where he posted a 1.80 ERA across 16 starts his junior season. Chosen by the White Sox in the third round of the 2014 draft, they gave him early looks as a starter at the professional level, as he made 10 starts in High-A back in 2015. The durability and peripheral performance wasn’t there though, and after missing the majority of the 2015 season and the full duration of the 2016 season, he made his return to pro ball in 2017, looking for a career in the bullpen. He put up a 2.78 ERA in 45 innings at the AA level last season, striking out 52 and walking 24. This earned him a call-up to the White Sox’ major league level at the tail-end of the season, where he allowed eight earned runs in 6 23 innings.

After getting extra looks at Fry in the Fall League and Spring Training, Chicago opted to send him to triple-A to start his 2018 campaign. He ended up only appearing in five games before he got the major league call again, but impressed in his small sample, allowing one run in 6 23 innings, striking out 11 and walking a single batter. Now after months of stellar performance and the White Sox dealing off the likes of Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan, Fry looks like the lead guy in a closer by committee deal.

Like most young relievers these days, Fry doesn’t make his living off high velocity. Averaging an unimpressive 93.3 MPH on his fastball, Fry does most of his work off a deep repertoire for the bullpen, featuring some plus-secondaries with a high amount of movement. As seen by his changeup below.

Movement on LHP changeups, minimum 200 pitches
Baseball Savant

The cutter has produced the best results for him. Numbers-wise, it might be the best cutter in baseball.

Top Cutters by xwOBA in 2018

Player Name xwOBA
Player Name xwOBA
Jace Fry 0.156
James Paxton 0.173
Diego Castillo 0.2
Lou Trivino 0.218
Bud Norris 0.225
Adam Wainwright 0.226
Jesse Chavez 0.236
Matt Magill 0.238
Blake Treinen 0.248
Collin McHugh 0.248
Minimum 25 results Baseball Savant

The launch angle and whiff-rate on the offering has been ideal.

Jace Fry is good, but for him, it’s just a matter if he can run with this early success. For now, there’s nothing to suggest that he can’t. It wouldn’t be an over-statement to say he’s been one of the more impressive relievers in baseball this year. The White Sox are just hoping he can carry this into their contention window, providing them with that coveted late-inning lockdown option.


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.