Not unlike a number of players – relievers, especially – who’ve come before him, a handful of highly-visible, highly-disappointing outings seem to have cast lefty Kyle Ryan in a role that his actual overall performance doesn’t seem to match.
The 27-year-old lefty, who was previously quite good with the Tigers, then nearly fell out of the sport before reworking things last year with the Cubs, has posted a 3.58 ERA this year, 18% better than league average. His 3.55 FIP is even better, at 19% better than league average. He gets a whopping 55.0% groundballs, strikes out a solid 23.9% of the batters he faces, and walks only 7.7%. And in a year of homer explosions, he’s giving up just 0.98/9.
By every season-long metric, Ryan has been a productive and useful reliever.
Yet I know that it doesn’t feel that way to many. But let me put it another way for those who still doubt he’s been solid – maybe the whole is worse than the sum of the parts or something, you fear. Maybe he’s constantly giving up a little bit here and there, so his numbers on the whole are fine, but he’s not a reliable reliever who can come in and prevent the other team from tacking on a run?
Welp, that’s just not true, either. As the headline notes, Ryan has now gone 10 straight appearances without allowing a run.
Indeed, Ryan has allowed a run in just 8 of his 35 appearances (22.9%). That’s hardly in the range of the guys who’ve really struggled: Mike Montgomery (6 out of 17 appearances (35.3%)), Brad Brach (12 out of 32 (37.5%)), or even Pedro Strop (6 out of 19 (31.6%)). Heck, it’s not that much worse than the guys who’ve inarguably been the Cubs’ best relievers this year: Steve Cishek (6 times allowing runs in 34 appearances, or 17.6%) and Brandon Kintzler (5 times in 33 appearances, or 15.2%)
That is all to say, just about any way you look at it so far this year, Kyle Ryan has been a fine reliever. Not stellar, but totally fine. Far better than average, and far FAR better than the guys who’ve really struggled.
All that said, he’s got minor league options remaining. He’ll be aided by the fact that he’s a lefty in a bullpen that desperately needs one, but it’s possible he could be optioned out to accommodate the influx of pitchers coming (Craig Kimbrel, Kyle Hendricks, Carl Edwards Jr.).