Yennier Canó: Did you know?

If you’ve watched Orioles baseball over the last year, the end of the season wasn’t what you would’ve hoped.

Not only did the Orioles’ postseason push die, but it looked like the trades made at the deadline were not going to carry any immediate major league weight.

Late last season, the club called up right-hander Yennier Canó to help a ‘limping to the finish’ bullpen. The Cuban native provided an 18.69 ERA with five strikeouts and seven walks in just three games.

You could see that the stuff was there, but it seemed apparent Canó had trouble commanding his pitches during this stretch. It seemed that trading away a competent All-Star closer with a five-pitch mix for a mid-inning reliever with a wild three-pitch mix as the only major-league-ready talent was going to be the punchline of Orioles fans for years to come.

This season, you almost have to make sure you are watching the same pitcher. Canó, after being called up from Triple-A Norfolk due to paternity reasons, has appeared in six games, pitching seven innings, striking out nine and walking none, while picking up his first big league save last night. All 21 batters he’s faced have been retired.

The early success is credited to an offseason’s worth of work to fix a flaw in his mechanics. Canó, who throws with a three-quarters release, was flying open with his front shoulder, making it harder for him to locate his pitches.

Canó said that keeping his front shoulder closed allows him to use his sinker through the zone and essentially makes his pitches do the work for him.

If you take a dive into Cano’s three-pitch mix (sinker, changeup and slider), you’ll notice a big difference in where the ball starts and finishes.

Canó has been making batters whiff at a 35.5% rate. For reference, the major league average is 24.7%. His pitches are majestic ‘strike to ball’ frisbees, making even the best hitters in each lineup look silly.

Canó’s sinker has 32.9 inches of drop with 18.2 inches of horizontal break. His slider drops 36.9 inches with 4.4 inches of horizontal break. And his ‘so good it makes you laugh’ changeup drops 33 inches and moves 17.8 sideways. Making contact is equivalent to winning the lottery with this guy.

The 29-year-old has thrown just 81 pitches to retire 21 batters and already has a WAR of 0.5 and a K/9 of 11.6. There is a reason that all 6’4’’, 245 pounds of him looks intimidating in his motion, as well as in what has become his signature stare down.

So far, Canó has been the most reliable reliever in the Orioles bullpen, not named Félix. He’s even been featured multiple times on the Pitching Ninja Twitter account, and I’m sure he’ll make many more appearances as the season continues.

If the Orioles continue to play in close games, Yennier Canó is going to have to continue making lineups look silly. But the biggest thing for him is confidence.

“The main thing is just trusting that my stuff is good enough.” 

– O’s breakout reliever Yennier Canó

What do you think of Canó’s impressive repertoire and success this season? Let us know in the comments below! Make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Jason’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @jbenowitz1831

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