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2023 Diamondbacks Reviews: #46 Peter Strzelecki

The return for Andrew Chafin.

The image banks didn’t have an image of Peter Strzelecki in a Diamondbacks uniform, so we took one from MLB.tv
MLB.tv

Overview

  • Rating: 3.18
  • 2023 stats: 1 G, 1.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 7.76 FIP, 2.25 WHIP, 0.00 SO/BB
  • Date of birth: October 24, 1994 (29 years old)
  • 2023 earnings: $3,905 (via Spotrac)
  • 2024 status: On 40-man roster. Pre-Arb. 1 option remaining.

Introduction

MLB teams decided to pass on Peter Strzelecki in the 2018 MLB amateur draft, after the starting pitcher for the South Florida Bulls, where he was team mate of the Rays’ Shane McClanahan, couldn’t impress in the NCAA.

As an undrafted amateur he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers to set himself up for a somewhat longer voyage to the big leagues. He finished the 2018 season in the Rookie leagues and in 2019 he roamed the A and A+ leagues, matching up against much younger competition.

It’s there, at Class A that Strzelecki is able to get the best out of himself, as he recalls in an article on FanGraphs in 2022.

“When I got to High-A, my pitching coach, Cam Castro, told me, ‘Hey, you know you could throw up in the zone.’ As a guy that doesn’t throw 100 mph, I never thought I’d be a guy to throw the ball up there. But ever since… I mean, it’s helped my other stuff, and my fastball plays better as well. “[Castro] said that my lower release height, slot, entry level… it’s a whole bunch of things, analytically, that I had no idea about and am starting to learn. I don’t have super high vertical break on my fastball like a lot of guys do, but because of the way my arm slot is, it plays like it’s well above average.” - David Laurila quoting Peter Strzelecki on FanGraphs in 2022.

After a lost 2020 season, Strzelecki finds himself in AA in 2021 with 26 years of age. Never much of a prospect, after a long season, he gets his first taste of AAA and the big leagues are now getting closer and closer.

In 2022 he pitches great for the Nashville Sounds and the Brewers decide to call him up and give him a chance to pitch at the highest level. His delivery plays up and he finishes the season with a strong 2.83 ERA in 35.0 innings. Strzelecki looks like he could be one of those fine relievers in the Brewers bullpen for the following years.

“While it might be a little harder, and it might take a little longer, as long as you put the work in and stay focused and confident, it can happen. You can make it to the big leagues.” - David Laurila quoting Peter Strzelecki on FanGraphs in 2022.

2023 review

After a successful 2022 season Peter Strzelecki is a fixed name for the Opening Day bullpen for the Milwaukee Brewers. In April he is off to a great start with a miniscule 0.66 ERA and batters hitting just .196. The BABIP shows he is up for regression, but those are still terrific stats to come home with.

The born Yankee-fan though, starts to encounter tougher luck in the month of May. Was he able to put the ball on the ground in half of the hits until end April, in the months of May and June that percentage drops to 32%. Add to that 7 HBP, a dropping strike rate, a hit per inning and 9 base-on-balls in 22 innings, combined with some bad luck and a 6.95 ERA, and the Brewers decide to option Strzelecki to AAA to improve his command again.

Strzelecki keeps on struggling in AAA, he gives up 7 runs in 7.2 innings, and doesn’t look to have a clear path back to the major leagues until the Diamondbacks knock on the door and include him in a one-for-one trade for Andrew Chafin.

I thought it was an interesting move, but at the time of the trade more intelligent people at FanGraphs already put their question marks about the motivation of it.

“Maybe Strzelecki will be a valuable cog for years to come, but relievers are so volatile that I don’t think those later years of team control are worth much. Chafin seems clearly better in the present. [...] Maybe Chafin was just a payroll offset, or maybe the Diamondbacks had some other non-obvious reason to want him out of town, but from the outside, it’s just strange. [...] I like their team – I’m just not sure I understand why they like it better without Chafin.” - Ben Clemens on the Diamondbacks trading Chafin to the Brewers for Strzelecki, on FanGraphs in 2023

In the end, it may seem that the Diamondbacks were the more clever part in this trade, because Chafin wasn’t as bad for the Brewers as he was in July for the Diamondbacks, but a 5.82 ERA didn’t help the Brewers nor would it have helped the Diamondbacks.

On the other hand, Strzelecki wasn’t able to contribute much either. He appeared 5 times for the Reno Aces before he was added to the 26-man roster after the Diamondbacks optioned Tyler Gilbert because they needed some fresh meat for a double header against the Padres on August 19.

The right-hander struggled in San Diego and allowed 2 walks and a hit in 1.1 innings of work before he was sent down again to AAA.

He finished there with a 10.13 ERA and a 12-11 K/BB-rate and 2 HBP over his final 8 innings of work. After an appearance on September 19 he hits the IL where he spends the rest of the season.

2024 outlook

Mike Hazen clearly traded for Peter Strzelecki with an eye on the future. After acquiring the righty he was immediately optioned to Reno, so it makes sense that the front office saw more in him as a likely reinforcement for the 2024 bullpen than an immediate piece in the 2023 bullpen.

Strzelecki has a deceptive delivery with two secondary pitches (slider and change-up) that have been graded as good. This year he added a sinker to his arsenal.

His velo on the fastball and the slider were way down this year. His location was also much worse than last year. His fastball wasn’t up in the zone like last year, but left in the center. His slider and change-up weren’t located around the corners, but entered the strike zone frequently. The result of both were too many hits as the ball was batted harder in 2023 than in 2022.

Strzelecki isn’t likely to enter the bullpen conversation for Opening Day 2024 and will probably start the season in AAA. This off-season he has enough time to build up strength and velocity.

Most important though: the location. His appearance against the Padres showed that his command was pretty bad. If he is able to achieve some positive results on that part early in the season, he could soon return to the major leagues if relievers like Miguel Castro start to struggle.