Braves Find Hidden Gem in Reynaldo López

Reynaldo Lopez
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves found a gem in off-season acquisition Reynaldo López. The 30-year-old right-hander went from a relief pitcher to the fifth starter for the Braves at the start of the season. They had Spencer Strider go down with a season-ending elbow injury and slow starts from Max Fried and Bryce Elder to open the season. Although some starters have struggled with expectations, López is the exception.

Reynaldo López: A Surprise Starter for the Braves

López features an explosive fastball to counter with his high-break slider and it has aided to his impressive start. With an impressive 1.53 ERA across 35 1/3 innings this season, The Braves named López as their last starter in the rotation to open the season. A surprising choice by the Braves’ front office since Reynaldo López’ last start was in 2022, where he pitched 61 games with one start. However, his slider-fastball combo has proven to be batters’ kryptonite. Lopez had an average break of 40.o inches of break on his slider is 3.4 inches better than the average. He throws his slider 29.6% of the time, with hitters posting a .130 average against his slider.

His fastball clocks in at around 95 mph, with 13.4 inches of drop. Against the fastball, hitters are batting .242. López hasn’t allowed a home run with these pitches yet, and he only has six XBH’s against those pitches as well. The issue with López so far is his changeup. The off-speed pitch has hitters posting a .400 average against it, with both home runs allowed coming from the changeup. In totality, batters against López are hitting .205 against him so far, with an impressively low .599 OPS.

Impressive So Far

In his six starts, López has posted a 2–1 record while only recoding six earned runs. His ERA+ stands at a career-high 273, while his WAR sits at a high 1.3 so far. The righty has only allowed two home runs in 141 batters faced. While Atlanta’s ace Spencer Strider is out for the season, Max Fried looks to take the reins. However, López’s impressive start could see a shift in his position as a starter if needed. According to Baseball Savant, López’s value so far is through the roof. He ranks in the 95th percentile for pitching run value, while 86th in fastball run value and 99th in breaking run value. López has proven to be the answer that the Braves have needed in their starting pitching in the early part of the season.

López’ Future Value

For Reynaldo López, his one-year contract is worth up to $4 million. The 30-year-old can still have a few more productive years in the tank. With the production so far at the start of the season, the former reliever’s form needs to stay consistent. With an impressive start in six games, the Braves have a reliable rotation piece after the last couple of seasons with rotation issues. López’s impressive fastball-slider combination could prove to be useful, but with changeup issues could lead to hitters laying off pitches. The Braves’ winning ways need to improve with quality starts from López throughout the season.

 

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Brooks Thomason

As a up and coming writer, Brooks has been born and raised as an Atlanta Braves fan. Going through the years of Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Brian McCann as a kid, to Freddie Freeman, and Acuña, Brooks has seen Braves stars come and go. However, his fandom always remains with Braves Country.

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