As the Jurassic Park theme song blasts out of the stadium speakers and “The Raptor” emerges out of the Rockies bullpen, fans at Coors Field can begin to expect what will happen. When that happens, Brent Suter is coming into the game to shut down the opposition for multiple innings at.
After seven seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers to start his career, Suter has dominated in his first year with his new team. Pitching 27 2/3 innings to this point in the year, he has a 0.98 ERA, striking out 26 batters and boasting an impressive 0.976 WHIP. His 516 ERA+ shows that he is incredibly dominant.
2023 is not the first season that he has had a dominant run, as in 18 1/3 innings in 2019. That’s when he boasted a 921 ERA+ and was even more impressive than his current run.
Suter Is Not Boasting a New Skillset
Suter went from a very good peripheral pitcher to one of the best in the league, but his skills have stayed consistent. In 2020, he ranked in the 96th percentile in average exit velocity, 96th percentile in walk rate, 87th percentile in hard hit percentage and 80th percentile in barrel percentage.
Now in 2023, he ranks even higher, as he sits in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity, 99th percentile in hard hit percentage, 99th percentile in barrel percentage and ranking in the 99th percentile in nearly every expected baseball savant stat.
The biggest difference with Suter’s skills coming together has been his ability to miss the barrel. His 1.4% barrel rate is by far the lowest of his career, but much of his production just seems to be hitters being unable to figure him out.
The hitters launch angle is also up 4.3% from 2022, being at 17.2 degrees in the new year. Pitching his home games in Coors, that may be negative. However, those hits are not being hit hard enough and die far before they get to the fence.
Tempo and Making Adjustments
Fewest barrels allowed:
Miguel Castro: 0 Brls
Taylor Clarke: 0 Brls
Gregory Santos: 0 Brls
Connor Brogdon: 1 Brls
Seranthony Dominguez: 1 Brls
Brent Suter: 1 Brls
Felix Bautista: 1 Brls
Jovani Moran: 1 Brls
Kevin Kelly: 1 Brls
Tyler Rogers: 1 Brls
— Jon Anderson (@JonPgh) May 18, 2023
One significant change that Suter has made from coming over to the Rockies is his tempo, as he works quickly 93.2% of the time when runners are not on base, with the highest rate he managed in his seven years on the Brewers being 79.8%.
That tempo is likely a consequence of the new pitch clock rule, but it is still something working to his advantage. Suter is keeping batters off balance with his mix of sinker, slider, changeup and fastball.
Suter also is likely fully adjusting to a consistent role. In his time with the Brewers, he did not become a full-time reliever until 2021. Before then, he was a starter turned spot-starter and long-reliever to being a higher-leverage reliever in his final years in Milwaukee.
The Emergence of a Better Slider
The final piece to the puzzle is likely his increased movement on his slider, as he has added 1.6 inches of a break to the pitch in 2023. His changeup and fastball combo has been the bread and butter to this point in the year, but throwing in a third elite pitch has unlocked a new level of eliteness.
Suter has been a major factor in the Rockies’ success this season, alongside Kyle Freeland finding his mojo and Elias Díaz’s bat. As it stands, Suter will certainly represent the struggling team in the All-Star Game, but if he continues his dominant pitching, he will make an interesting trade piece for a contending team in need of a new bullpen arm.
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