2019 Stats: 5-5, 4.71 ERA, 54 G, 70.2 IP, 79 SO, 1.401 WHIP
2019 Salary: $920,000
2020 Status: Arbitration 2 ($1,400,000)
Matt Andriese was acquired by the Diamondbacks just prior to the 2018 trade deadline in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league pitcher, Brian Shaffer and minor league catcher, Michael Perez. Perez was immediately added to Tampa Bay’s 25-man roster and has been a mainstay since. The deal was likely the first of Mike Hazen’s tenure as GM that felt poorly-judged. Andriese’s profile was not unlike a number of right-handed relievers already in the system and the team gave up a catching prospect that was MLB-ready, despite still lacking depth at the position. It didn’t help matters that Andriese promptly imploded after the trade, going from essentially league average as a pitcher (ERA+ 101) to a dumpster fire of a thrower (EA+ 47). Granted, the sample size was only 14 games, but these games came down the stretch, during the point in time when the Diamondbacks went from being a playoff team, to being on the outside looking in. The team’s travesty of a bullpen was a major contributor to that collapse. Matt Andriese and Jake Diekman were the poster children for that horrific bullpen and its failures. Yet, despite these struggles, Andriese returned to the team in 2019, having what amounted to a guaranteed spot in the Opening Day bullpen.
The 2019 version of Matt Andriese was leaps and bounds better than the 2018 version the Diamondbacks experienced. That said, it would be a tad much to claim that Andriese was actually a good pitcher in 2019. As a general rule, given the small number of innings a reliever typically throws, the minimum standard is usually to be a league average pitcher. The standard expectation is to be somewhat better. After all, the point of bringing in a relief pitcher is to bring in a fresh arm to do what the starter could not. Matt Andriese did not meet that level of performance, finishing the season with an ERA+ of 95. However, this number is at least somewhat more acceptable given the number of innings pitched by Andriese. Only four relief pitchers in all of baseball pitched in fewer games but had more innings of work than Andriese did. Overall, Andriese had the 26th most innings thrown of dedicated relievers. Six of those started at least one game, including teammate Archie Bradley. On the other hand, among relievers with 70 or more innings pitched, Andriese ranked dead last, 29/29, in terms of ERA+ and was one of only three to be below league average.
As can be deduced from the innings provided, the Diamondbacks looked to Andriese as a reliever that could be relied on for more than three outs at a go. In only 10 of his 54 appearances did Andriese fail to pitch at least a full inning. When he was on, Andriese could chew up innings and help the remainder of the bullpen rest. This is most exemplified by an early-season outing in April when Andriese notched a three-inning save.
Andriese’s problem was that when he was not on, he was particularly hittable. Andriese only allowed scoring in 19 of his 54 outings. But, in 11 of those 19 outings he allowed multiple runs to score. The worst of these outings was on June 30th against the Giants, when Andriese allowed five earned runs on three hits and two walks while not recording a single out. After being rather marginal for the the majority of the season, Andriese turned things around in the final month of the season, only blowing up in one of his ten September appearances.
Matt Andriese carefully threads the needle of being just effective enough to get more chances while also piling up innings of work, despite compiling a negative win-probability added. The Diamondbacks got a nice long look at Andriese in 2019. It is likely that the 2019 version of Andriese is the pitcher he is going to be moving forward. While his body of work has been largely underwhelming, it seems probable that Andriese will return to the Arizona bullpen in 2020, especially since he still has one minor league option remaining.