The Diamondbacks signed an excellent starting pitcher on a minor league contract. This offseason, they signed two remarkable free agents (closer Mark Melancon was the first).
What made this minor league signing possible? Four reasons follow:
- The current lockout prevents Major League contracts.
- In 2019, Dan Straily struggled. In 2020 and 2021 he played for the Lotte Giants in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).
- He wanted to again work with pitching coach Brent Strom.
- Dan Straily wanted to finish his career in the Majors so his son could watch him play.
Let’s look at his yearly performance over the last five years and then let’s look at who he is in his own words.
How did Dan Straily’s performance change over the last five years?
My view is that the reasons for his 2019 struggles only applied to that season. The big reason is that his knee injury was misdiagnosed as swelling when the problem was a torn meniscus. The secondary reason was batters’ OPS against him was 25% higher when he was a reliever. In 2019 he started and ended the season as a reliever, after 56 games as a starter and zero games as a reliever over two seasons. In 2020 and 2021 he started 62 games for the Lotto Giants with great success, showing that his injury was addressed and he pitched better as a starter.
In 2019, one visible problem was his 4.2 homers per 9 innings which was triple his previous seasons. That problem became a strength playing for the Lotto Giants (0.5 in 2020, and 0.7 in 2021).
One of the more fascinating free agents is SP Dan Straily. Compiled 200 K in one of the most dominant KBO seasons ever. Several MLB teams in on him. Reds, Giants, Angels, among them. Will decide between pitching in the US or Korea next week. Per sources.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) November 27, 2020
Although Dan Straily may be in his decline phase at 33 years old, the following table shows that 2019 was an anomaly instead of a cliff.
The 2019 anomaly was a change in his slider’s expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA). It was much worse than any previous season. Since then, although Dan Straily improved all of his pitches, the slider is likely the biggest improvement. The following graph shows xwOBA for his most frequent three pitches. Easily seen is the reduced slider effectiveness in 2019.
Who is Dan Straily?
“I think Husband, Dad, pitcher best describes me.” — Daniel Straily twitter page
“When you believe in yourself as an athlete and trust your abilities you are the best version of yourself on the field.” — Dan Straily
“I loved learning from him [Brent Strom]. he was the one that taught me to throw high fastballs based on my 2600 RPM. He was really good at helping me be the best version of myself.” — Dan Straily
“I was very lucky to play for a team [Lotte Giants of the KBO] with many American style coaches around so we had all the toys! Rapsodo, Driveline, Edgertronic cameras and we got to work. It’s a big part of my success and reinvention of myself in Korea. We changed something on almost all of my pitches to make them better.” — Dan Straily
“My journey is my own and I love it.” — Dan Straily