The Detroit Tigers claim reliever Edwin Uceta off of waivers.
The Detroit Tigers have not had the off-season that many Tigers fans were hoping for. It has been a combination of lackluster moves or the lack of moves in itself. There have been a lot of moves to stockpile the organization's depth moving forward.
The latest move to stockpile some depth comes as Scott Harris and the Detroit Tigers' new front office have added another relief pitcher into the mix. The Tigers have claimed right-handed reliever Edwin Uceta off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Uceta, a 25-year-old righty, has a combined 37.1 innings pitched over the last two seasons pitching out of the Diamondbacks bullpen. The Diamondbacks recently designated him for assignment, and the Tigers pounced on the opportunity to grab him on the waiver wire.
He came up with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization but was claimed by the Diamondbacks in 2021. Ultimately, the Tigers feel he can bring some value to the team's bullpen, which has certainly lost a big piece with Gregory Soto being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Uceta is coming off of a 2022 season where he pitched in 10 games and totaled 17.0 innings pitched. He managed a 5.82 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, and walked seven while punching out 13 opposing hitters. Certainly not the most exciting numbers.
Let's dive into Uceta to see what the intrigue might have been from the Tigers' front office.
Plain and simple: He's a high-spin righty with a funky delivery and a sinker/curveball mix.
There you have it. Uceta's got some funky-ness to his delivery, and the high-spin pitch mix likely caught the Tigers' front office's eye. But, before getting into his pitch mix, let's talk delivery and what makes things so funky.
Uceta starts on the first base side of the rubber mostly when working out of the wind-up; he uses a side-step where he drops the hands from around his face down to the belt. He gets a good ol' velo pump with the right leg on the rubber, and his hands begin moving back upward.
The leg lift is interesting. He goes up, out, and around before moving down the mound. At the peak of his leg lift, the knee is above the belt, up around the letters, and he tucks the lower leg underneath his hip with some trunk tilt.
The hands stay around the letters before breaking. He goes down through the back into a Strasburg-like break. The lead arm reaches forward, and he starts to ride the slope down the mound. He gets some decent hip-shoulder separation as he starts to really let it loose.
Uceta's got a quick arm action from foot strike to release. He cuts himself off, with his glove hand finishing low around his hip. He then slows his body down and finishes standing straight up and even finishing with a peel off a bit towards third. Not entirely, but it looks like he could finish more over the front foot and ride the momentum more through release.
Overall, it's a funky delivery. From the stretch, the leg bends at the knee, which gets a leg lift barely up to the belt. It's a bit quirky, but then again, his whole delivery is top to bottom. He's still seemingly quick to the plate; not sure what the exact times were but there was some quickness.
With the delivery being quirky, let's dive into his pitch mix. It's a three-pitch mix of fastball/curveball/changeup. His fastball is a sinker-profile pitch that spins up into the 2300s and averages 93.5 mph. It has that arm-side run and sink that really dives.
His breaking ball is a high-spin pitch, up into the 2500s, and it's got an 11-5 shape. It's got a two-plane break with good depth and even some horizontal break. His fastball and curveball are his best two pitches. Looking at the metrics and cross-referencing that with some video, it seems like getting around the pitch more for even more horizontal might even create some more bat-missing stuff. It would give him more of a sinker/slider profile
His third offering is a changeup. The least-developed of his pitch mix. It averages around 88 mph, and he's not able to turn it over and kill spin on it. It's almost like a slower sinker in terms of movement. It has that same sink, with a slight arm side fade. The sinker has less drop because it's firmer, but it's still a lethal pitch.
Overall, the Tigers' new right-hander may not be the most exciting to some. But at 25 years old, he may be able to refine some things and become a serviceable bullpen arm. It's not to say he's the team's new setup man, but some fine-tuning and development in the minors might have him making relief appearances in 2023.