Chad Orvella and Andy Sisco Find Homes

In the year 2005, Chad Orvella and Andy Sisco flashed promise as two of the league’s youngest and more successful relievers.

Orvella was 24-years-old and appeared in 37 games with the Devil Rays. Two years earlier, the Rays had taken Orvella in the thirteenth round of the draft. Orvella had been the starting shortstop for the North Carolina State Wolfpack while occasionally pitching. The Rays converted him to pitching full-time and he flew through the lower ranks. In his first 85 professional innings, Orvella struck out over 130 batters. A 25 inning stint with Double-A Montgomery ended with Orvella posting a 0.36 ERA, 1.8 FIP, 12.8 K/9, and a 6.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Such success continued for Orvella upon reaching the majors. His K/BB ratio slipped under 2, but he still managed to post a 3.78 FIP in 50 innings.

In spring training 2006, the Rays and new pitching coach Mike Butcher messed with Orvella’s mechanics, attempting to make him more aerodynamic and less of base-stealers’ delight in those high leverage situations. Naturally, Orvella lost all ability to throw strikes. He’s seen 32 Major League innings since and walked 30 (one of those being an intentional walk); in his first season he walked 23 in 50 innings and he’s walked 40 in 124 Triple-A innings.

Sisco, once described as Randy Johnson’s height meets David Wells’ belly, never took precautions to hide his control problems. He just flaunted them openly while striking out more than a batter per inning. Through nearly 150 innings in the Majors, he’s averaging 5.7 walks per nine. Even still, his career Zone% is 50% exactly. Orvella’s 2006 Zone% was 47.8%. Let that sink in for a moment. The Angels have signed Orvella to a minor league deal in hopes that maybe he can rekindle what made him appear to be the Rays’ future closer way back when.

Sisco was the Royals’ 2005 version of Matt Thornton. He appeared in 67 games, posting a 3.11 ERA and a 3.79 FIP. His strikeouts slipped, his walks increased, and he started giving up homers in 2006. That’s a really bad combination, and Sisco found himself on the way out of Kansas City as Dayton Moore flipped him for Ross Gload. Sisco has pitched 14 innings in the Majors since. The Royals didn’t get a steal though, since Gload produced -0.5 WAR over two seasons in which he accumulated nearly 50% of his career plate appearances.

The Giants have fittingly signed the six-foot-ten ‘Sisquatch’ with the hope that he can climb the beanstalk.

Just more proof that sometimes the best laid bullpen dreams don’t always work out.

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Detroit Michael
Detroit Michael

FYI, Orvella signed a minor league contract with the Angels.