This Phils reliever's dominance is historic

June 25th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki's Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Is it possible Seranthony Domínguez’s dominance the first three months of the season has been underappreciated?

Not that people don’t know he is pitching well. They do. Not that they don’t recognize his value to a bullpen with late-inning issues. They do.

But do they grasp his dominance in a historical context?

Domínguez entered Friday 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 28 appearances, striking out 35 and walking seven in 26 2/3 innings. He has a 1.0 WAR, according to FanGraphs. It is tied for 17th among Phillies relievers since 2008. Not surprisingly, Brad Lidge is No. 1 with a 2.2 WAR in 2008.

Domínguez hasn’t even pitched half a season yet, so he could be there at the end with Lidge, Ken Giles (2.1 WAR in 2015) and Jonathan Papelbon (2.0 WAR in 2014).

Domínguez’s ERA is the lowest among qualified Phillies relievers since Billy Wagner in 2005 (1.51). His 1.89 FIP is the lowest ever. His 0.86 WHIP is the lowest since Giles in 2014 (0.79). His strikeout rate (34.7%) is the second-best ever. His strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.00) is the best since Papelbon in 2013 (5.18).

“He’s as good as what I saw before he got hurt [in 2019],” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said. “Is he better? Maybe a little bit.”

Domínguez’s sinker is leading the way. Opponents are batting .074 (2-for-27) against it, which is the lowest batting average against sinkers of any pitcher (minimum 25 plate appearances). It averages 97.6 mph, which is tied for the 10th-fastest sinker (minimum 100 thrown). It probably explains why he is throwing it more than ever: 28.4% this season compared to 2021 (14.3%), 2019 (1.5%) and 2018 (6.8%).

He has closer’s stuff. So, why isn’t he the closer? It is a fair question, and one Thomson has been asked multiple times the past couple of weeks. It could happen eventually, but for the moment, Thomson is committed to close by committee.

“Most lineups, you feel pretty comfortable with Seranthony,” Thomson said. “But there might be a pocket that’s better for Brad Hand or Connor Brogdon. We can run Seranthony through a different pocket to make sure that they get that one.”