Boston Red Sox Acquire Lefty Reliever Fernando Abad

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While some were expecting the Boston Red Sox front office to trade for a starter, the team went for a smaller fix and patched the bullpen by making a move for a reliever. Ian York uses his charts and PITCHf/x to analyze lefty reliever Fernando Abad to see what the southpaw has to add to the Red Sox bullpen.

Lefty reliever Fernando Abad is the newest member of the Boston Red Sox, following a trade with the Minnesota Twins for minor-league reliever Pat Light. The 30-year-old Abad is in the seventh year of a major-league career spent almost entirely as a middle reliever, and with a career ERA+ of 110 he’s been reasonably successful at the job to date. So far in 2016, he’s gone beyond reasonably successful to very good, with an ERA of 2.65 and an ERA+ of 160. He has a significant platoon split, holding left-handed batters to an OPS of .458 while right-handed batters have a .712 OPS against him. It’s worth noting, however, that much of the RHB success against him has been driven by walks rather than power, making him more than just a lefty specialist. Consistent with this, the Twins typically used him for an inning, occasionally more.

Abad has a relatively complicated repertoire for a reliever, regularly throwing fastballs, curves, and changeups while intermittently mixing in a cutter. He also flashes a mystery pitch which looks like a very slow (low-60s mph) changeup, with less horizontal movement than his usual changeup; it’s labeled as “slow change” in the following chart:

Both the “slow change” and the cutter are rare pitches; the fastball, curve, and changeup are his main weapons. He’ll throw all three to both right- and left-handed batters, while the cutter has been used only against right-handed batters this year:

His fastball grades out as an average pitch in terms of location (balls per 100 pitches in the chart below) and hittability (total bases per 100 pitches):

His curve is significantly better than average to both righties and lefties. His changeup is interesting; although it is somewhat worse than average for location, it is much better than average for hittabilty, especially to left-handed batters, who have seen 27 changeups so this year, and have yet to get a hit off it.
Abad looks like a strong and versatile addition to the Red Sox bullpen, who can be used with confidence against left-handed batters without being dangerously weak against righties.


Ian York uses the PITCHf/x to monitor the strike zone, highlights great performances, monitors league-wide trends and tracks the performances of some interesting young hitters.

Follow Ian on Twitter @iayork.

All data compiled from PITCHf/x and Baseball-Reference.com.

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