Elvis Araujo: Greatest RP in Phillies History


Okay, perhaps that title is just a bit misleading. However, this is a guy who seemingly has come out of nowhere to become more than a solid presence in the Phillies’ bullpen.

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So far in the 2015 season over 33.1 innings, the 24- year old Venezuelan has posted a 3.16 ERA, has a 3.20 FIP, and a 47.7% groundball rate. It’s not all positive, as his 29/18 K:BB ratio is fairly unacceptable.

When he was first signed, it raised an eyebrow or two that the Phillies would give a minor league free agent a Major League contract. But as Mike Ondo, Director of Pro Scouting says, his arm gave the team a chance to add some “quality…to our organization“.

Since his call-up in May, Araujo had found himself behind Jake Diekman in the Phils’ left-handed pitcher pecking order, mostly coming in for low-leverage situations. This is reflected in his 0.60 aLI, or average leverage index, which means he’s coming in low stress situations. But now he seems to be the club’s best bet against lefty batters.

The single biggest factor that jumps out regarding Araujo of late is that since the All-Star break, he hasn’t given up a hit. Again, that’s not saying that he hasn’t given up a run, or a walk, or hasn’t hit a batter. He hasn’t given up a hit – no hits at all. He’s been pretty good.

Now before I continue to look at his season, let me readily acknowledge that I am dealing with some very small sample sizes. Araujo hasn’t pitched in the Majors prior to this season, so there is not much date to rely upon.

I still find it rather interesting that he hasn’t allowed a hit in the last 23 plate appearances against him. How is he doing it? I’m not sure there is a clear, verifiable answer, other than perhaps a change in approach to hitters.

The stuff he throws is pretty straight-forward. Araujo throws mostly a fastball-slider combo, while mixing in a sinker and the occasional changeup. In May, when he came up, he threw basically only those first two pitches, but now he seems to have thrown a few more changeups in recent outings.

You can see from this chart that his slider usage has gone down as he has thrown more of his changeup.

The chart is a bit misleading. After all, he’s only thrown 15 changeups all year, 5 of which came in one game on August 5th against the Dodgers. This skews the chart, rendering it unreliable. As I said before, we’re dealing with very small sample sizes.

The next thing I thought about is location. Is he perhaps throwing his pitches to more “unhittable” locations?

Below is a chart of where he was throwing his pitches in May and June (I only used fastballs and sliders here):

Here is a chart of where he has been throwing his pitches in July and August thus far:

What I gather from this information is that he is elevating his pitches more frequently. Perhaps this goes along with the fact that now, Araujo believes he is better able to get outs via the fly ball than the ground ball. Consider: since May, his GB% and FB% have gone in the opposite direction:


Since it’s less likely that a player will make an error on a flyball than a ground ball, perhaps Araujo is on to something.

Araujo’s success could be as simple as a change in approach. The velocity that he can reach enables him to cheat a little more in the zone. He’s noticed this fact, and adjusted his style.

Of course, as hitters adjust, he’ll have to adjust back to them as well. Does this mean more changeups? Sinkers? We’ll see. But for now, let’s hope Araujo is able to continue this run of success that he’s been on over the last full month.