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Ranger Suárez Will Not Lie To You

Ranger Suárez #55 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch in the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park on April 16, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Are you tired of these so-called elite pitchers doing disgusting things like throwing high-spin fastballs over 95 miles per hour and operating from their measly little three-pitch arsenals? These three-true-outcomes jerks, getting their strikeouts in exchange for serving up home runs up the wazoo? Swing-and-miss stuff that looks ugly when the swing fails to miss? You're not alone: The people are crying out for honest pitchers, who have great control and can induce weak contact! They want guys who play competent defense with zero urgency and immense disdain! They want Ranger Suárez.

Egad! the people cry. Non, non! Give us someone who does not play for the Philadelphia Phillies! To which I say: No.

Here are some Ranger Suárez facts. He is a lefty, which to me immediately means that he is a total freak. He started off as a reliever, and in his remarkable 2021, he went from long reliever to full-fledged starter. He had a relatively quieter 2022 and 2023, which means that he currently sits third on the Phillies' rotation, behind Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. He is Venezuelan, which you will know if you have spent any amount of time watching Phillies baseball in the same room as Luis Paez-Pumar. He is so chill. Like, so chill.

Suárez currently holds a streak of 25 consecutive innings without allowing a run. On Monday night, he threw seven scoreless against the Cincinnati Reds, on only 88 pitches. Pulling him made for a relatively modest pitch count, but it makes sense why Rob Thomson would do so—in his April 16 start against the Colorado Rockies, Suárez pitched a complete-game shutout on 112 pitches. To go back to the last time Suárez allowed a run, you'll have to jump back two more starts to when he faced the Washington Nationals on April 6 and allowed a two-run homer to Joey Gallo in the third inning. Now he has a 1.60 ERA, and that's not just luck: his xERA this season is 1.89, which is in the 94th percentile of MLB.

This gets two qualifiers. First, the sample-size child is screaming her little head off, as we are only five starts in. Second, Suárez didn't rack up these numbers against what you might refer to as "stellar offenses"—barring the Braves, against whom Suárez pitched five innings and allowed three runs in a decent-but-not-great performance, every team that Suárez has pitched against has had an average-to-below-average offense. Still, streaks are the rare pleasure that can and indeed must be appreciated in a vacuum, and no matter if Suárez even faced the Chicago White Sox in that span (I am compelled to add that he did not), you love to watch big number go up.

Suárez is the honest pitcher's honest pitcher. He rarely walks guys; so far this season, he's yet to even put himself in a 3-0 count. His contact metrics are obscene. He has a 61.5-percent ground ball rate, and averages an 81 mph average exit velocity which is right there near the lowest in MLB. If you only average out the softest 50 percent of the batted balls he's allowed—basically, how softly hit are his softliest hit pitches—it comes out to a 66.4 mph average exit velocity, which is good enough for third in MLB and far and away best in MLB for pitchers who've seen as many balls in play as Suárez has. Just take a look at where he usually throws his pitches:

Source: Baseball Savant. Also see by pitch percent.

Suárez isn't a BABIP merchant—he also happens to have a 28.4-percent strikeout rate. In that way, Suárez's profile is similar in surface qualities to Zack Wheeler: a low-walk, high-strikeout pitcher who draws out a lot of ground balls. Wheeler, with his six pitches and inning-eating tendencies, is also something of a throwback, but I must sadly declare him slightly less honest than Suárez based on how they get those results. Wheeler still has that quintessential high-spin, high-velo, high-location four-seamer. Meanwhile, Suárez has five pitches, and doesn't throw any of them particularly hard. So far this year, he's averaged 91.4 mph on his fastball, and he favors the sinker over the high four-seamer. His fastball is, accordingly, not that spinny, and by not that spinny, I mean fifth-percentile spinny.

That is honesty right there. He gets his strikeouts, but not through UCL-destroying (caveat: currently awaiting official study) fastballs. He spits on trendy pitches like the sweeper. He has a great change-up. He knows more than four pitches. He induces softly hit ground balls. He fields like most people go to work in the morning: with a begrudging I guess, but he both gets the job done and does a good job. He is Ranger Suárez, and he is here to save us.

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