Roster Recap: Robby Scott’s Homer Problem

Last year, I showed some optimism for Robby Scott as a developmental success for the Red Sox. The guy has a delivery against left-handed batters that is downright brutal to face. Considering the left-handed pitchers the Sox had in the bullpen — Fernando Abad, Robbie Ross — it seemed like Scott would be stuck in Pawtucket for a long while. However, Robbie Ross went down in May with elbow inflammation that never really subsided, and needed back surgery in August. That’s not the type of connection I would make, but for Robby Scott, it doesn’t matter, because it meant more playing time for him.

Scott got his innings in, all 35.2 of them. Being at the bottom of the bullpen depth chart isn’t exactly thrilling, but as one of the very few left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster, Scott had a pretty solid spot for most of the season. He would bounce back and forth a couple times over the rest of the season, but Scott would still getting southpaws out at a mostly acceptable rate. Right-handed batters, though, that was a different story entirely.

What Went Right

Scott was still a menace to anything left-handed. He held them to a stellar .119/.224/.303 line in over 20 innings, turning him into the most effective reliever on the team against left-handed batters, and that even includes Craig Kimbrel, patron saint of remarkably absurd reliever stats. Scott had his fair share of escapes as well, including this high-wire act in Cleveland where he struck out Jay Bruce and Bradley Zimmer to preserve the tie:

Being a LOOGY isn’t the flashiest thing, but they get their 15 seconds of fame just like everyone else.

What Went Wrong

Everything that wasn’t under the “versus L” split. Right-handed hitters had his number, posting a .814 OPS against the southpaw, and he gave up four home runs in just 15 innings of pitching to righties. It was bad. But don’t worry, it gets worse, because his home/road splits are objectively horrifying.

Cover your kids’ eyes before reading the rest of this segment. It’s not for children nor the faint of heart.

At home, he held all hitters to a .427 OPS. That’s pretty good! On the road, opposing batters lit him up, as he allowed 5 homers in just 15.2 innings and was pinned to a .927 OPS. That’s pretty bad! Thing is, he was still solid against lefties on the road, which speaks to how awful he truly was when there was no same-side advantage working in his favor. I could go on but the theme here is blatantly obvious: if it wasn’t a left-handed hitter, Scott was getting destroyed. They are his hard counters.

What To Expect

As optimistic as I was last year, it’s hard to think he’ll be much more than the second lefty in the bullpen. He has a major home run issue, and his batted ball profile suggests it won’t change much, especially when it comes to right-handed hitters. Scott wasn’t often misused in 2017, and it’s hard to see him being put in worse situations in 2018, seeing how dramatic his splits were. If he can keep the ball from leaving the park so much, he’ll stick around a lot longer than any of use expect.

Photo by Eric Hartline — USA TODAY Sports

Related Articles

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username