A deeper dive into the newest member of the Atlanta Braves

cbw220723116 min at det

The Braves made their first significant acquisition of the offseason yesterday, acquiring right-handed reliever Joe Jiménez from the Tigers in exchange for their top outfield prospect Justyn-Henry Malloy. Now, if you follow the site, you’re aware I was as high as anyone on Malloy. I thought there was a fantastic chance that he could be the future in left field for the Braves. He’s also a Georgia Tech product, so it was a good story. However, the Braves are in win-now mode. Malloy was a promising prospect, but there was no guarantee he would ever be a starting-caliber player at the top level. Jiménez, on the other hand, is already one of the best at his craft.

The surface-level numbers are nothing to write home about. Jiménez posted a 3.49 ERA last season over 56.2 innings and actually owns an unsightly 5.24 ERA over his career, but a deeper dive into his peripherals from 2022 suggests he could be an All-Star caliber reliever moving forward.

For starters, Jiménez struck out exactly a third of the batters he faced, owning a 12.2 K/9, which ranked him fifth in the American League. His strikeout rate is in the 95th percentile among all pitchers, and he also isn’t afraid of pounding the strike zone. Jiménez only walked 2.1 batters per nine innings in 2022, ranking in the 83rd percentile of pitchers. His excellent FIP of 2.00 suggests he was extremely unlucky last season, and his 1.4 fWAR ranks him inside the top 30 relief pitchers in all of baseball — tied with Collin McHugh.

Some more stats from Baseball Savant:

  • 85th percentile xERA
  • 74th percentile xBA
  • 74th percentile xSLG
  • 82nd percentile in Whiff%
  • 84th percentile in Chase Rate
  • 81st percentile in fastball velocity
  • 94th percentile in fastballs spin

Jiménez sits in the upper 90s with his fastball, featuring a nasty wipeout slider that opponents hit only .182 against and slugged .227 against. I know a few pitchers on the Braves with that same combination. In fact, it’s something the organization emphasizes a lot with their young arms. There’s a chance Jiménez regresses to the pitcher he was prior to last year, but if he’s anything like the guy who showed up in 2022, the Braves have just added another dangerous weapon to an already talented relief core. This unit is once again poised to be one of the best in baseball next season.

Photographer: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire

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