San Diego Padres: RHP Jacob Nix Isn’t Missing Many Bats

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LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Starting pitcher Jacob Nix #63 is taken out of the game by manager Andy Green #14 of the San Diego Padres after giving up six runs in less than three innings in the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Starting pitcher Jacob Nix #63 is taken out of the game by manager Andy Green #14 of the San Diego Padres after giving up six runs in less than three innings in the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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San Diego Padres rookie RHP hasn’t been able to produce many strikeouts at the major league level.

The 2018 season has been quite the roller coaster ride for Jacob Nix. The 22-year-old right-handed rookie began the year on the minor league disabled and did not make his season debut until May 30th, as a member of the Double-A San Antonio Missions. His 2018 ride comes to an end as a member of the San Diego Padres.

Allen made 10 starts with San Antonio, posting a 2.05 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and limiting opposing hitters to a .211 batting average. He followed up his brief stint in San Antonio with one start in El Paso (6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) before finally earning his big league call-up on August 10th.

Nix never showcased a great ability to strike hitters out over the course of his four-year minor league career but has had a high degree of success by working as a pitch to contact pitcher with the ability to keep the ball in the infield.

Statistics from full-A, high-A, and double-A stints

At the major league level, both of these numbers have dropped, along with his strikeout rate. In the same seasons from the numbers above, Nix struck out 20% (twice) and 18.2% of hitters, averaging no more than 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in any of the three seasons.

In eight starts with the San Diego Padres, Nix has logged 38.1 innings, posting a 6.81 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in the process. He’s given up seven home runs, 47 total hits, and can’t seem to miss bats.

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His groundball rate has dropped to 37% while his infield fly rate is at a minuscule 1.9%. As for his strikeout rate, it’s dropped to a lowly 12%. His 6.6% swinging strike rate is extremely low. If we look on Fangraphs’ pitching leaderboard, Mike Leake of the Seattle Mariners has the lowest swinging strike rate in the majors (among all qualified pitchers) at 7.6%. Just for fun, Clayton Richard is 8th on that last at 8.5%.

The changeup has been the most effective pitch for Nix, as far as producing swings and misses. Nearly 12% of his 77 changeups thrown have been whiffed, with his curveball producing a 6.7% whiff rate and the fastball producing just a 5.8% mark.

Some of this may be attributed to stamina, as Nix spent a big chunk of time injured to start the year. He also made the jump from Double-A to the pros less than two months ago, however, these numbers are something to pay attention to as next year’s spring training moves forward. There’s been an obvious trend in each of the numbers discussed above since his debut in the minor leagues.

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SImply put, Nix will have to find a way to strike out hitters at the major league level. Give him the offseason and full spring training and let’s reassess after a few starts in 2019.

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