- Rating: 4.98
- 2022 stats: 30 G, 29.1 IP, 3.38 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 1.295 WHIP, 30:11 SO/BB, 120 ERA+, 0.1 bWAR
- Date of birth: March 24, 1994 (28 years old)
- 2022 earnings: League minimum
- 2023 status: On 40-man roster, pre-arbitration and contract tendered.
2022 in review
I always feel Kevin needs a nickname of some kind. The Ginkelator? Ginkmeister General? Ginkzilla? I’m open to suggestions. He has had a bit of a roller-coaster career with the D-backs, since being picked in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft - a round which doesn’t even exist any more. He broke in with a stellar second-half in 2019, posting an excellent 1.48 ERA over his first 25 games in the major-leagues. That got him into the discussion as a possible future closer: unfortunately, the next two seasons had other plans. Kevin struggled to a 6.50 ERA (5.86 FIP) across 44.1 combined innings, despite a brief occupancy of that role at the end of 2020.
As a result, he wasn’t on the Opening Day roster, and wasn’t even seen on the 25-man roster until well after the All-Star break. Instead, he was working for Reno, and putting up some very impressive numbers there, considering the hitter-friendly nature of the league. Over 30.2 innings for the Aces, he allowed just four earned runs, for a 1.17 ERA. For context, the PCL ERA for the year was 5.40. It must have been rather frustrating for Kevin, watching half the Aces bullpen bounce up and down to the majors, while he kept plugging away. However, he finally made his point with a 12-inning scoreless streak in the second half of July, and got the call on August 1, replacing Corbin Martin.
He made an immediate impression, throwing eight consecutive strikes and fanning Austin Hedges, Myles Straw and Stephen Kwan to start his 2022 MLB campaign (above). A few days later though, Ginkel had a wretched outing on August 7 against the Rockies at Chase. He faced six batters, retiring none, on four hits and a pair of walks. Four of them scored, and his ERA jumped up almost ten runs to 12.27. But that outing proved an aberration, and the exception rather than the rule. Of his 30 appearances, 23 lasting an inning or longer, he was scored on only six times. Seven of the eleven earned run Kevin allowed came in onlt two outings; the rocky Rockies appearance, and a game against the Cardinals twelve days later.
Among the pitchers with at least 20 innings of work for Arizona this season, Ginkel had the lowest fielding-independent ERA, at 2.74. This is partly because he was very good at keeping the ball in the park, giving up one home-run to the 124 batters faced. However, it is also due to his K-rate being among the best on the club. At 9.204 per nine innings, it ranked behind only Zac Gallen’s 9.391 (again, 20 IP+). He was the hardest thrower in that group as well, Ginkel’s average fastball zipping in at 96.4 mph [Among those with fewer innings, Luis Frias was faster at 97.0 mph; however, nobody seemed sure where it would end up, least of all the pitcher...]
After entering 2022, then spending the first four months of this year, in the wilderness, it does seem as though Ginkel has got himself back on track. The team looks to be making a conscious effort to add hard-throwers to the bullpen, as the signing of Miguel Castro appears to suggest. After a decent final third of the season, Kevin seems well-placed to take advantage of that change in relief philosophy. It isn’t enough on it’s own, of course. We saw that in the decision by the team to part ways with Reyes Moronta and Keynan Middleton, both of whom averaged in the 95-96 mph range this year for the D-backs. But both also had a K-rate below 8.0, below league average and well below Ginkel.
There is even the possibility that he could find himself in high-leverage situations, with the team not having any obvious closer at this point. 30 of the 33 saves for Arizona last year went to Mark Melancon, who lost the job mid-season, or Ian Kennedy and Moronta, who are no longer with the team. Ginkel and Joe Mantiply combined for the other three. It’s perhaps an omen that, on the final day of the season, Torey Lovullu turned to Kevin to get the final three outs against the Brewers (below). It was his first major-league save in over two years, since September 4, 2020 - perhaps a shape of things to come? We might have to wait until spring training next year before we get the answer to that question.