One of three players who came to the Mets in the trade that sent Steven Matz to the Blue Jays, Sean Reid-Foley has gotten off to quite a start with the Mets this year. The 25-year-old came to New York with some major league experience under his belt, having thrown 71.2 innings for Toronto, but he carried a 4.40 ERA and had issued a staggering 48 walks in his previous stints, a rate of 6.0 walks per nine innings.
Reid-Foley caught everyone’s attention during his first appearance as a Met if only because of his stance as he looks in to see the catcher’s signs.
Throw in the mustache and the ink on his arm, and Reid-Foley’s entire presence on the mound is just perfect for internet baseball fandom.
But it wasn’t just his appearance that stood out. Reid-Foley pitched three perfect innings with four strikeouts, and in his subsequent four appearances, he’s averaged just over two innings per outing and has racked up 14 strikeouts and issued just one walk in 8.2 innings of work. Add it up, and Reid-Foley has a 1.54 ERA and a 0.31 FIP with 13.89 strikeouts per nine, 0.77 walks per nine, a 40.9 percent strikeout rate, and a 2.3 percent walk rate.
So let’s see what might have changed about the way he’s pitching. Per Brooks Baseball, Reid-Foley has averaged 94.02 miles per hour on his four-seam fastball this year, which is just slightly below his average from last year and on par with his career norm. And in terms of usage, there aren’t any drastic differences compared to his past performance, but he has been using his changeup a bit more often than he did before.
But there has been a drastic change when it comes to whiff rate, as he’s generated swings-and-misses on 23.1 percent of the changeups he’s thrown and 18.2 percent of the fastballs he’s thrown, both of which are big increases from his past work.
Reid-Foley has a 15.4 percent swinging strike rate in total, and he’s thrown 45.5 percent of his pitches in the strike zone, an increase from just 31.6 percent last year and slightly over 40 percent in the two seasons before that. Opposing hitters are swinging at 76.5 percent of his pitches in the zone, which is also a career high, but they’ve making contact just 74.2 percent of the time they swing at those pitches, a career-low for Reid-Foley.
Per Statcast, when Reid-Foley has given up contact, the frequency with which it’s been hard contact is up, with both barrels (12.0%) and hard hit rate (56.0%) quite a bit higher than they were in his time with Toronto. But Statcast’s xERA doesn’t see Reid-Foley as a pitcher who’s vastly outperforming his underlying metrics, as he’s at 2.19 in that stat.
There’s no major revelation in any of that data, but Reid-Foley’s early success might just boil down to “dude stopped walking people and started throwing more strikes.” And obviously it’s just 11.2 innings of work with the Mets so far. As the team is currently constructed, though, with injuries galore and still two spots in the rotation that boil down to some combination of piggybacking and a bullpen game, Reid-Foley has been incredibly valuable to the team.