Why newest Yankee Darren O'Day is one of the most underrated relievers in the game

Ryan Morik
·2 min read
Darren O'Day in white Braves jersey
Darren O'Day in white Braves jersey

The Yankees agreed to a one-year deal with 38-year-old reliever Darren O'Day on Wednesday, quickly plugging in the hole that came about when they traded Adam Ottavino to the Boston Red Sox on Monday.

The Yankees will be O'Day's sixth team, also having played for the Angels, Mets, Rangers, Orioles, and Braves previously.

One would look at O'Day's resume and see just one All-Star nod in 2015, but the fact of the matter is, that's actually a travesty.

No, O'Day doesn't have dominance like Billy Wagner did, or Josh Hader does. But O'Day is constantly forgotten about when talking about some of the best relievers in all of baseball.

And this goes far beyond O'Day's 1.10 ERA in 2020.

O'Day owns a 2.51 ERA (161 earned runs/576.2 innings) in his 13-year career. That's obviously good. But more impressively, he has had eight seasons with an ERA below 2.29.

His eight such seasons are the fourth-most in the live ball era, dating back to 1920, behind only Mariano Rivera's 10, and Joe Nathan's and Hoyt Wilhelm's nine.

Oddly enough, O'Day has become more of a strikeout pitcher as he has aged. He struck out 21.6 percent of batters faced before he turned 30, but has struck out 29.1 percent in his 30s. He also has had a K/9 of at least 10 in each of his last six seasons.

Since 2012, O'Day owns a 10.3 K/9. In that span, he has tossed 396 innings, and has posted a 2.34 ERA in that span. There are just four pitchers since 2012 to throw at least 350 innings, own an ERA below 2.50, have a K/9 of at least 10, and a WHIP below 1.00:

Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, and O'Day.

O'Day's best strength is posing as a threat against right-handed batters. Of course, with the new three-batter rule implemented prior to the 2020 season, he'll have to face more lefties. But righties hit just .193 off O'Day in his career, which is the 13th best mark in MLB history (min. 1100 ABs).

The Yankees traded Ottavino in a salary dump, but they got someone who is just as good, if not better, to take that spot for much cheaper.

O'Day's role will also be similar to Ottavino's - Zack Britton, Chad Green, and Chapman will round out the last three innings, with O'Day easily filling in for any of those guys on their off days.

We may not be talking about O'Day going into Cooperstown in a few years, but the bottom line is, he has been severely underrated for the better part of a decade now.