clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews, #66: Anthony Swarzak

New, 14 comments

Like someone very famous once said: the last ones will be the first ones.

Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images
  • Rating: 1.67
  • Age: 36 (since September 10)
  • 2021 Stats: 6G, 4.2 IP, 9.64 ERA, 4.88 FIP, 1.714 WHIP, 4:1 K/BB, 47 ERA+
  • 2021 Earnings: $59,136 (via Spotrac)
  • 2022 Status: DFA’d by the Diamondbacks in April 2021, now a free agent.

Introduction

On March 3 the Diamondbacks signed Anthony Swarzak to a minor league deal for the 2021 season after the D-Backs obviously saw some potential during a work-out the right-handed pitcher had in January 2021.

Swarzak might fit that typical bounce-back reliever type Hazen looks for, although him actually being a bounce-back guy was a question mark. Because Swarzak, originally a 2004 2nd round pick for the Minnesota Twins, made his Major League debut way back in 2009 but except for an impressive 2.2 WAR season for the White Sox and Brewers in 2017 he had rather been a so so reliever.

The question for the D-Backs was not if the slider-fastball pitcher, a combo he reverted to while pitching for the Doosan Bears in South Korea in 2015, could return to 2017 form (read this article if you are interested), but if he could perform somewhat similar to his stint in Atlanta in 2019, where he was a useful reliever. Although “useful”...: he was lights out over 12 innings until he injured his shoulder and after that his performance was rather dreadful. He apparently did not right the ship in Philadelphia in 2020 where he didn’t make the roster and was cut twice there as Jim already wrote.

So, the Diamondbacks were basically hoping for something which was going to be tough to find from the beginning: some value in a declining arm, hampered by past injuries, that had one peak in what was a very mediocre career of a reliever thus far.

2021 review

But Anthony Swarzak left a rather good impression in Spring Training, pitching to a 1.80 ERA in 5.0 IP, and was one of the final cuts before Opening Day. Like Jim wrote at that moment, Swarzak was one of those pitchers we would probably see pitch for the Diamondbacks.

That moment came sooner rather than later. Swarzak wasn’t the first reliever to be called up, that honour went to Matt Peacock on April 6 when Joakim Soria hit the IL, but Chris Devenski was put on the restricted list one day later and thus made room for Swarzak.

He would pitch the very same day in what was already a lost game against the Rockies and

his debut was rather disappointing as he gave up 3 runs on 2 hits and a walk.

Swarzak got a couple of scoreless outings after that until he gave up a huge bomb at Chase against the Oakland A’s. He’d pitch his final game on April 17 at the Nationals where, again, he would allow a run, this time on 3 hits.

The Pit had seen enough of Swarzak after this and so did the D-Backs front office at a time where we were still believing that the team was somewhat competitive in the NL West.

Maybe the lollygagging over to first base on the Starlin Castro bunt played a part too, but what killed Swarzak’s time with the D-Backs was the suicidal line drive rate of 37.5%. Yes, his BABIP was way over his average and yes, his FIP is indeed much lower than his ERA, so Swarzak might have been somewhat unlucky but the line drives that were hit seemed to come off rather hittable pitches (how was his BABIP rated so high)?

Anthony Swarzak’s time with the Diamondbacks thus ended on April 18 since he was designated for assignment after that game against the Nationals. The D-Backs wanted to try something different and so J.B. Bukauskas got the call-up. A week later Swarzak would be released.

Swarzak was thus on a short lease in Phoenix. He pitched at a time where the Diamondbacks were performing decently and with his 4.2 IP he only leaves Frias, Mella and Weems behind as pitchers with less innings. Imagine he would have pitched later in the season with the Diamondbacks struggling mightily, could he have gotten more opportunities and might he have left a better impression?

Well, that question was somewhat answered by his time for the Royals. Mid May Swarzak got another opportunity as he was signed on a minor league contract by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals selected his contract in June, and his performance was in line with what he showed in Arizona, so he was DFA’d in Kansas City a month later in July and chose free agency.

All in all, to me it seems that Swarzak’s FIP is deceptive and without a doubt he was one of the worst pitchers the Diamondbacks sent to the mound this season. You graded him as the worst one of them all (and so did I).

2022 outlook

Anthony Swarzak is a free agent and I do not think anyone of us really cares or is interested in where he will end up. A Major League contract is out of the question, of course, and Swarzak will have to settle with a minor league one.

The question is whether any team is interested in signing a 36 year old reliever who had just one great season in his entire career and is clearly in decline ever since. Swarzak might find a team if and wherever injuries start to decimate a reliever corps and fresh hands are needed just to provide some innings.

The outlook for Swarzak is to pitch a handful of innings for a team and getting released once others return from an IL or a couple of days of rest, and that a couple of times during the season for different teams.

But ever since signing a $14MM deal with the Mets back in 2018 he doesn’t need the money though, so I would not be surprised if he just decides to hang up the cleats.