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2017 Arizona Diamondbacks Review: # 16, Jimmy Sherfy

Will Jimmy Sherfy be the D-backs closer?

Jimmy Sherfy
Jimmy Sherfy
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

  • Date of birth: December 27,1991
  • 2017 line: 11 games, 10.2 IP, 0 ERA, 9:2 K:BB
  • 2017 value: 0.6 bWAR
  • 2017 salary: minimum, arbitration starts 2021
  • SnakePit rating: 6.85

2017 analysis

Jimmy Sherfy’s 2016 season was a bump in the road. In July of 2016, he was promoted to AAA Reno. The first month was good. After that a problem emerged – he allowed 4 homers in 11.2 innings (and 15 earned runs). The good news is that he stuck with his routine.

In spring of 2017, he said his mindset was 1) stick to his routine every single day, 2) come to the field with purpose, and 3) if there is a bump in the road – “it is what it is” and he will stick with his routine. That is a great mindset for a closer! Please remember his mindset when we talk about his prospects.

From 2014 to 2016, his high walk rate reduced his success. He made a great stride forward in pitch control. His 2017 walk rate was low in AAA and the Majors. That stride was the “right stuff” to pitch at the top level! For details, see the following table:

Walks Per 9 Innings, Jimmy Sherfy

Year Level Innings Pitched Walks Per 9 Innings
Year Level Innings Pitched Walks Per 9 Innings
2014-2016 AA 107.1 4.3
2016 AAA 23.1 5.0
2017 AAA 49.0 1.8
2017 Majors 10.2 1.7

In 2017, his pitching was amazing!

  • In Reno, his relief pitching was at the elite level (3.12 ERA, 11.2 SO/9, and 1.8 BB/9). His line was 44 games, 49.0 IP, 3.12 ERA, 61:10 K:BB.
  • In Reno, his HR/9 improved to 1.1 (a 43% improvement from 2016 Reno).
  • On 20 August, he was called up and continued to pitch at the elite level. He did not allow any earned runs! Excellent! He pitched mostly in low leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings.
  • Twice in the playoffs, he pitched against the Dodgers. The Dodgers scored against him both times. After seeing how the Dodgers hit well against great pitchers in the World Series, these two games did not concern me. Nevertheless, he may not be ready to pitch in high leverage situations.

2018 prospects

I am confident that Jimmy Sherfy will be in the Majors and experiencing success for two reasons.

First Reason. Sherfy has similarities to a future Hall-of-Fame starting pitcher who is well known for his intense preparation and for being an advanced expert in pitching. Of all the D-back pitchers, Jimmy Sherfy is closest to matching that pitcher’s spin rate and velocity. That starting pitcher is Zack Greinke. In the following scatter chart, I have circled three small groups of pitchers who stand out from the norm. In the bottom right, you see only Sherfy with a close match to Greinke. That gives me confidence in Sherfy!

Second Reason. Sherfy has earned the confidence of the coaches and managers. That may be obvious in asking the question, “How often does a rookie pitch in the playoffs?”

However, Torey Lovullo’s words show as much confidence as his actions.

I am confident he will be part of the D-back bullpen. In 2017 regular season, his zero earned runs was perfect. His 2.03 FIP was fantastic, and better than Archie Bradley’s outstanding 2.61 FIP. His 4.5 SO/BB ratio was elite, although exceeded by Greinke (4.78) and Hernandez (15). Overall, his pitching stats are more than good enough to earn him a spot in the bullpen. The question is what will his role be?

One role could be closer.


  • In the minors he earned a total of 50 saves in the last two seasons.
  • In his first season in the Majors, he pitched well in in the ninth inning (11 outs with zero earned runs).
  • His low walk rate (5.4%) is essential for a closer.
  • In 11 games in the Majors, he earned a save in one game (zero blown saves), and he earned a Goose Egg (a metric proposed by Nate Silver) in another game.
  • As noted earlier, he has the mindset of a closer.
  • In the last four seasons, He has enough endurance to be a closer - 60.2 innings in 2017 and at least 49 innings in each of the last four seasons.


  • He may not be ready to pitch in high leverage situations. That thought is based on his allowed runs in two playoff appearances.
  • He lacks closer experience in the Majors, where he has only experienced three save situations.
  • The closer role may not be available if the D-backs re-sign Fernando Rodney, or if the D-backs decide to make Archie Bradley the closer.

Another role could be set-up reliever. Lets look at some reliever metrics from the regular season (Majors). The caveats are small sample size for Sherfy and Sherfy’s two playoff games did not confirm these numbers. In 2017, Sherfy compared favorably to the totals from all D-back relievers.

Measures of Relief Pitching, 2017

Measure Jimmy Sherfy D-back Relief Pitching
Measure Jimmy Sherfy D-back Relief Pitching
Shutdown : Meltdown (SD : MD) 3 : 0 138 : 73
Win Probability Added Per 9 Innings Pitched (WPA/9IP) 0.459 0.076
Inherited Runners Scored : Inherited Runners (IS : IR) 0 : 2 58 : 239

Although I would not expect as much flash and power as Bradley, a reasonably passionate approach to silent the opposition bats would be more than acceptable. Part of that approach could be his walk-on music. He commented about the song, Wild Thing, written by Chip Taylor. “It pumped me up and they started doing it every time. I had no choice but to embrace it.”

I recommend Jimmy Sherfy be the D-back closer. That is where he could contribute the most to the team. It would allow Archie Bradley to continue in his setup role where he has excelled. Alternatively, it would allow Archie Bradley to be in the rotation, if that is where he is needed most. Nevertheless, I would have a plan B in case it is discovered that Sherfy cannot handle high pressure situations.

I look forward to seeing wild-thing Jimmy Sherfy walk onto the field from the bullpen, whether as a set-up reliever or as a closer.