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Joe Mantiply

How effective are Joe Mantiply’s sinkers?

Joe Mantiply.
Joe Mantiply.
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Some excellent stuff was written about Joe Mantiply.

DBacksEurope started his 2022 player review of Joe Mantiply with a game of “find the differences.” He showed two pics. The first was October 2020 when the D-backs DFA’d him and the second was July 2022 when he was selected for the All-Star game.

“In last year’s review Jack already pointed out that Mantiply would have stretches of good pitching and then some outings where he’d give up several runs. That trend continued in 2022, albeit with a rather different stretch: from the beginning of the season until the All-Star break Mantiply was the sole star on what was a rather mediocre team.” — DBacksEurope

Michael McDermott wrote that Joe Mantiply’s sinker sometimes gets hit hard. Eventually, we’ll talk more about his sinker. Meanwhile, the following quote is provided.

“The success of Joe Mantiply in 2022 was explained in a great article from Michael McDermott on here in the beginning of June while Jack Sommers in his 2021 review also explained the caveat in his possible success: his sinker that gets hard hit from time to time because of inferior location.” — DBacksEurope

Jack Sommers’ 2022 player review pointed out the importance of his ground ball rate and walk rate. This season throough 23 June, his walk rate per nine inning improved from 0.90 to 0.57. This season’s 0.57 BB/9 is the second best among relievers with at least 10 innings pitched in the Majors per FanGraphs. That’s awesome! The following quote summarizes some of Mantiply’s strengths.

“His sinker, curveball, changeup repertoire induced ground balls at a 54% clip, and most importantly his microscopic walk per nine rate of 0.9 was the best among all major league pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched. That resulted in his FIP matching his ERA, and his xFIP was even lower at 2.52.” — Jack Sommers

In his article about Andrew Chafin, Makakilo pointed out that in 2022 Joe Mantiply had a higher percentage of pitches that added a strike to the count. Perhaps some of Joe Mantiply’s strengths compare favorably to Andrew Chafin, another left-handed bullpen pitcher.

Data from Baseball Savant.

Joe Mantiply overcame injuries.

This season he overcame a shoulder injury and a hamstring injury. He started the season on 18 April. He was out less than a month later on 9 May. On 12 June, he returned and pitched 3 innings, 48 pitches. That was by far his longest appearance since August 2019, when he pitched 3 innings, 52 pitches. Luckily, it did not seem to have any lasting impact.

An important trend in the Majors: sinkers are best against same-handed batters, not against opposite-handed batters.

This trend was written about by Ben Clemens and Justin Choi of FanGraphs. Two quotes follow:

“In essence, Justin pointed out what we all kind of knew but didn’t talk about much: sinkers are much better against same-handed batters. Teams have caught on, and they’re changing usage accordingly.” — Ben Clemens, June 2023

[About right-handed pitchers] “In plain English, pitchers have stopped throwing sinkers when they’re faced with opposite-handed batters. Meanwhile, they’re throwing right/right sinkers as frequently as ever.” — Ben Clemens, June 2023

How effective are Joe Mantiply’s sinkers?

This season he pitched sinkers to left-handed batters and right handed batters. What were his results?

His results against left-handed batters were excellent.

Data from Baseball Savant.

This table shows three things:

  • This season through 22 June, Joe Mantiply’s sinkers were very effective against same-handed batters (in terms of OBP, SLG, and wOBA).
  • This season through 22 June, Joe Mantiply’s percentage of sinkers were much less than the league (16.6% vs 23.5%). On 23 June he pitched 23.3% sinkers, which was league average. Perhaps his percentage sinkers will gradually rise during the remainder of the season.
  • This season relievers in the Majors increased the percentage of their pitches that were sinkers. Bucking the trend were Andrew Chafin (stayed about the same) and Joe Mantiply (he pitched sinkers less often to same handed batters).

His results against right-handed batters were poor.

Data from Baseball Savant.

This table shows that this season through 22 June, when Joe Mantiply pitched sinkers against opposite-handed batters, his results were worse than the league average and worse than last season. It’s a good thing this season’ percentage sinkers against opposite-handed batters was lower than last season.

What did I see in a game against the Giants?

On 23 June, Patrick Bailey, a switch hitter, chose to bat as a right hander against Joe Mantiply. Joe Mantiply pitched 3 sinkers in that at-bat. Bailey hit the third sinker for a home run. This homer strengthened the conclusion that Joe Mantiply should not pitch sinkers to right-handed batters. The updated stats for right-handed batters: .533 OBP, 1.357 SLG, .760 wOBA.

A recent problem for Joe Mantiply could be repeating the same pitch in an at-bat. In the 23 June game, four runs happened when Joe Mantiply repeated the same pitch at least 3 times in an at-bat. The following quote explains what happened:

“Mantiply replaced him [Zach Davies] with zero outs in the inning and two runners on. He then left a beautifully easy to hit ball [fourth consecutive curve in a four-pitch at-bat] in the zone for Conforto to double down the right field line, ensuring Davies line reflected the poor performance we all saw. After a flyout, he then left another ball [third sinker in a four pitch at-bat] in the zone for Bailey to homer and put the game away.” — Spencer O’Gara’s game recap


Last season Joe Mantiply made the All-Star team. His several strengths include high ground ball rate, very low walk rate, and efficiency in adding strikes to each batter’s count.

There is a trend in the Majors to pitch sinkers to the same-handed batters and avoid sinkers to opposite-handed batters. This season, Joe Mantiply’s sinkers had excellent results against same handed batters and poor results against opposite handed batters. Pitching sinkers more often to the former and less often to the latter could lead to improved results.

Worth investigating is should the same pitch be repeated more than twice in an at-bat. In a game against the Giants, that circumstance may have contributed to two hits that scored 4 runs.