Chris Devenski was an All-Star in 2017. Since then he has a 4.43 ERA in 68 appearances. So what happened?

Could Astros reliever Chris Devenski's struggles be explained by a World Series pitch chart?


The 2017 World Series was one surrounded by storylines from Cody Bellinger's strikeout struggles, to a too-slick baseball to Ken Giles being unable to hold down a lead.

But, probably, one of the biggest talking points throughout the seven-game classic came when it was revealed the Astros saw Dodgers starter Yu Darvish tipping pitches. Darvish was shelled in both of his starts and lost Game 7, which gave Houston its first championship.

But, could the storyline of tipping pitches in that series extend beyond Darvish? Well, a pitch chart from Game 7 may suggest so and it also could explain the struggles of one of the Astros' formerly great relievers.

Chris Devenski was an All-Star in 2017 thanks to an 8-5 record with a 2.68 ERA, which came during 80 2/3 innings pitched and 62 appearances. He struck out 100 batters that season and was known for one of the best changeups in the game and being a shutdown guy in the late innings.

However, it was revealed in a story by The Athletic on Wednesday that Devenski may have had trouble with tipping pitches. On a Game 7 pitch chart, which Red Sox manager Alex Cora — and then Houston bench coach — gifted to Astros pitching coach Brent Strom, there was a note on the page which tells an interesting story.

"*“Devo tipping on Puig?”

Something in Chris Devenski’s delivery apparently gave Strom pause after Yasiel Puig lined out to first against the Astros’ reliever in the fifth inning, but why even worry about it?

Devenski did not face another hitter in Game 7 – the final game of 2017!"

Devenski struggled in that series, posting a 7.20 ERA while allowing four runs in five innings with four hits and two home runs. While it's easy to say that could have just been a problem he was dealing with in that series, it might not be true. Since the 2017 World Series, Devenski has posted a 4.43 ERA in 68 appearances. In his first two full MLB seasons he was incredibly difficult to hit, posting a 2.38 ERA in 189 innings pitched.

Something changed. Was it that he was tipping pitches? It's hard to say. But one thing we do know for sure is Cora went to the Red Sox last season and Houston pitched Devenski against them just once. It held him off the playoff roster so as not to give Boston a look at him.

Now, there's a lot of things this could be. Devenski had an incredibly high usage rate in his first two seasons and he could simply not be the same pitcher due to that. But upon observation of his pitching, his changeup still looks good, and his velocity has stayed relatively the same (94.1 in 2017, 94.2 in 2018 and 93.9 in 2019).

And also, this could be a completely old issue as Strom is one of the best pitching coaches in the game and one would think he could solve a problem with tipping pitches over a two-year period. But Darvish has had repeated struggles with it and other players like Luis Severino have said it's a long-term problem, as well, so to think it could be an occurrence which pops up again and again is very logical.

So, is Devenski's problem that he is tipping pitches? It's unclear, but considering Strom's note in 2017 and his subsequent struggles thereafter, it may very well be the case.



Hernandez to miss one spring start

Felix Hernandez injury update: Mariners ace expected to miss only one spring start

Hernandez left Monday's game against the Cubs after being struck in the pitching arm by a line drive, though he avoided serious injury.


Making sense of 2018 MLB free agent

MLB free agency 2018: Where should the top remaining players end up?

A number of MLB free agents have finally found a home this offseason, but there are still plenty of intriguing players still out there.


Coach fired for marijuana stance

Texas college coach fired for rebuffing recruit over Colorado’s marijuana law

Texas Wesleyan baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat was fired for telling a recruit the team was not interested in players from Colorado.


Clark sounds off on issues

MLBPA union head Tony Clark sounds off on tanking, pace of play

Tony Clark said commissioner Rob Manfred made his changes to pace of play without any approval from the MLBPA.


Steinbrenner says people are scared

Yankees' Hal Steinbrenner: 'People are concerned about us'

With the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, some are calling the Yankees "The Evil Empire" once again, and Steinbrenner is OK with that.