On almost any other team, Chris Reitsma would have been shipped out. Heck, in New York or Boston, they probably would have had to give him police protection until they could unload him. The Braves stuck by a talented pitcher they’ve made a commitment to; this is a good thing.
It’s not that Reitsma pitched well last season; he was basically average. He was used a lot, making 84 appearances, 79 2/3 innings. He tended to wear down with heavy use. I don’t have the data, but I don’t think he pitched well in back-to-back games. This is yet another reason I think he needs to be in the rotation rather than the bullpen; he doesn’t bounce back quickly.
There were some promising signs here. His strikeout rate of 6.78 per nine innings was the best of his career, with no resulting rise in walks. On the other hand, there was no resulting decline in hits allowed. Reitsma’s career BA allowed is .280; last year, it was .284. It should have gone down, considering the strikeouts, and maybe he was just unlucky. He did lower his home run rate from previous years and allow a career-low slugging percentage of .419. In many ways, he’s the mirror image of Horacio Ramirez, whose other stats aren’t as good as his ERA. (And I’ve thought Ramirez maybe should be in the bullpen.)
Reitsma throws two pitches for the most part, a “mid-nineties” sinking fastball and a changeup. He supposedly has another fastball but he doesn’t seem to get a whole lot out of it. If Reitsma maintains the gains in his strikeout rate, or improves on them, he could have a good year. I worry about the mental side of his game, though; he seemed to get shaken at times, particularly late in the season. As I think I’ve mentioned, he resembles Derek Lowe in some ways — another guy who throws a lot of sinking fastballs — and Lowe has never consistently thrived in any role.