Washington Nationals: Jimmy Cordero flashes promise but lacks command

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Jimmy Cordero #52 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the New York Mets during the eighth inning at Nationals Park on September 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Jimmy Cordero #52 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the New York Mets during the eighth inning at Nationals Park on September 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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In our second 2018 Report Card, we look at Washington Nationals reliever Jimmy Cordero. Called up midseason, he flashed high-end stuff, but little command.

We continue our 2018 Report Card series as we put several Washington Nationals players under the spotlight. Today we focus on right-handed relief pitcher Jimmy Cordero and his season in 2018.

Cordero was acquired by the Nationals back in the December 2016 from the Philadelphia Phillies as a high-upside, but very raw reliever. After a Spring Training invite, he was a lockdown reliever for the Syracuse Chiefs to start off the year, even recording six saves.

Then after the whole Shawn Kelley fiasco on July 31st, he finally got his call-up to the big leagues. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be back at the highest level next year, but let’s take a look back at his major league debut season.

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The Positives for Cordero

Cordero’s stuff is electric, and he flashed his elite upside at several times during his big league stint. His two primary pitches were his fastball, which averaged 97.5 mph, and his curveball which sat at 85 mph this year. He also used a slider that averaged 89.7 mph and a changeup averaging 90.4 mph to round out a potential elite arsenal.

He was also good at limiting hard contact throughout his major league stint. According to FanGraphs, his 30.9 percent hard contact rate is well below the major league average of 35.3 percent. So when he was able to keep the ball in the zone, opposing hitters weren’t able to hit him too hard.

Areas for Improvement

The one caveat to that excellent hard-hit rate is that, well, he didn’t let the opposition hitter hit it that often. His command was wild, to put it lightly. His 5.7 BB/9 was third highest on the team among those who pitched at least two innings last season.

Now, there have been pitchers who can have some success and be “effectively wild” with a walk rate that high. But for a pitcher with the stuff that Cordero has, his strikeout rate was unfathomably low. His struck out just as many as he walked with a 5.7 K/9, for someone who has the repertoire to strike out at least a batter per inning, just like he did in Syracuse with a 10.4 rate.

The Final Grade

Despite flashing the stuff of an elite reliever, the fact that he couldn’t apply it well enough severely affects his grade. His end of season figures made for poor reading with a 5.68 ERA, 5.48 FIP, and a 1.842 WHIP.

Moving forward, he could be a nice depth option that the Nationals can keep in the minor leagues as he attempts to work on consistency with his command. However, in 2018, he simply couldn’t quite cut it after looking promising at Triple-A. D

JIMMY CORDERO. D. . RP. Washington Nationals

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Remember to keep an eye out for more Washington Nationals 2018 Report Cards during the upcoming weeks here at District on Deck.

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