Early Impressions of Jeff Bennett

Jeff Bennett has been a Ray for two weeks and he's faced 31 batters already. That's more than Chad Bradford has faced, almost more than Jason Isringhausen, one less than Dale Thayer, and almost as many as J.P. Howell faced in April. Early returns: eh, not so great. His FIP is 6.09 with the Rays, his tRA (now on FanGraphs, holla) is 6.18, and his K/BB ratio is disgustingly 1.00. He is doing some things right, his whiff rate is slightly up, his groundball rate is near 60% (although his BABIP is actually .349 which is insanely high for a ground-pounding specialist with a good defense behind him), and his home run rate is way too high to sustain. We labeled him a right-handed specialist when he arrived, and boy, is that ever the truth:

Versus righties (18 PA): .267/.389/.267

Versus lefties (13 PA): .364/.462/.727

The numbers will change, but the pattern is going to remain the same. He's built to take on normal human beings, not "left-handed" "people".

So that's Jeff Bennett. I noticed his fastball velocity was down 0.7 ticks from his time with the Braves. Having some pitchfx data on my hands I decided to run David Price's home/away velocities and see what gives, if anything:

Road starts (356 four-seamers): 93.8 MPH

Home starts (334 four-seamers): 92.9 MPH

Same exercise, but for James Shields:

Road starts (354 four-seamers): 91.2 MPH

Home starts (387 four-seamers): 90.0 MPH

I'm going to check the other pitchers before stating anything, but you can kinda see where this may lead.

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