ST. PETERSBURG – Yerry De Los Santos is off to a good start in his Major League debut.
After another scoreless inning on Wednesday night, the 24-year-old right-hander has a 2.92 ERA and an 0.97 WHIP in 12 appearances. That includes 13 strikeouts and 4 walks in 12.1 innings.
“I feel very comfortable,” De Los Santos said through team translator Mike Gonzalez. “This group of guys has been great, and I’ve been learning a lot from them.”
De Los Santos has been a late inning reliever in the minors, capable of going multiple innings and pitching late in the game. He’s had a similar role so far with the Pirates. The role is familiar, but De Los Santos has noticed the difference in talent level in the big leagues.
“The caliber of hitters up here is different,” said De Los Santos. “They know their strike zone, they know what they’re looking for, and if you make a mistake, they’re going to make you pay for it.”
On that note, De Los Santos has been hurt the most so far by the long ball. He has allowed two home runs so far, while seeing his walk rate go to 8.5%. The latter isn’t a bad number, but a higher percentage than what De Los Santos saw in Triple-A.
Originally signed by the Pirates in July 2014, De Los Santos has found success in the minors with a sinker/slider approach, which continues to work in the majors.
“Those two pitches are working really well for me,” said De Los Santos.
The sinker has an OPS against of .619. It’s not getting hit that much, but is the entire source of the control issues from De Los Santos. The slider has a .500 OPS against and a 19.1% swinging strike rate. He throws this pitch out of the zone 70% of the time, and throws the sinker out of the zone 53% of the time. The slider gets chases, though the sinker does not.
De Los Santos said that he might look into adding a cutter or a changeup to his mix in the offseason. A third pitch could help him when he lacks control of the sinker. That said, right now hitters aren’t making solid contact on either pitch. If De Los Santos can gain consistent control of that sinker, he might not need an additional pitch to have success in an impact bullpen role.
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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.