The quiet brilliance of Randall Delgado
Randall Delgado began the year as a long man for the Diamondbacks. He wasn’t in the conversation for saves or holds. He last started a game in 2015…and that also happened to be his only start of that year. Fantasy relevance did not seem likely. Fast forward to the present and RD is getting run in the rotation again after doing his best Chris Devenski (lite) impression. Consistently a highly regarded prospect, Delgado never reached his perceived upside and has always underperformed; that trend may finally be changing. I delved into his peripherals to see what was beneath the surface, and, if nothing else, his early season numbers shocked the heck outta me.
Blessed with prototypical 6’3″, 220 pound size, Delgado peaked on Baseball America’s top-100 at #35. This occurred way back in the stone ages of 2010. He debuted in 2011, but consistent inconsistency in the rotation led to permanent move to the pen in 2014. Over the last two years, an elevated walk rate dogged him and made for a huge hurdle to success. This in turn, equated to xFIP’s of 4.14 and 4.74. But this year, something may have changed. Delgado’s renaissance begins with a newfound ability to limit free passes, with a shiny BB/9 of 1.49.
Delgado currently sports the highest velocity of his career, at a cool 94.7 this year. This comes on the heels of 3 consecutive years of declining marks (93.2, 92.9, 92.0). He’s also inducing more grounders than in past seasons, with a 48.6% ground ball rate. Finally, his offerings have been harder to turn on and pull for the opposition, resulting in a lower hard contact rate when comparing this season to last (from 32.9% to 28.0%).
Delgado’s tightened up his delivery over the years, but only minimally. It still contains some violence, but let’s focus more on the pitches themselves. First lets watch him blow away Todd Frazier with 97 mph heat:
Next, watch as he makes one of the year’s hottest hitters, Ryan Zimmerman, flail at his slider:
Finally, you’ll get a glimpse of his change vs Cutch. If you keep watching, you’ll also see a really good one against Hanson. Mixed in will be some impressive FB’s as well:
Unfortunately, despite this intriguing repertoire, a soon-to-be full Diamondbacks’ rotation (once Taijuan Walker returns) means Delgado will likely remain in the bullpen for the most part. However, the 27-year-old can still maintain Devenski-lite value from the pen and should a spot in the rotation, he’s certainly worth taking a flyer on. One does not need to squint to see Delgado can hold value if his perceived gains are in fact real.