RP Steven Okert
.@Marlins reliever Steven Okert joins the broadcast ahead of the finale against the Mets to talk about his season so far, being able to pitch late in games and more! #MakeItMiami pic.twitter.com/3l6cQTovKi— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) September 11, 2022
- Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers (43rd Rd in 2010 and 33rd Rd in 2011) and the San Francisco Giants (4th Rd in 2012).
- Made MLB debut on April 19, 2016.
- Signed MiLB deal with Miami on February 26, 2021.
- Entering age-31 season in 2023.
“Stealthy” may best describe Steven Okert and his Marlins tenure. Turning a minor league deal in 2021 into a now-three-year stay in South Beach, Okert has been one of their better relievers (at least by what traditional metrics tell us). He’s had consecutive campaigns with a sub-3.00 ERA, never allowing more than two earned runs in an individual outing.
Okert’s breakout success has largely been predicated on a knack for missing bats and inducing weak contact.
The weapon that has long been his calling card, the slider, was as consistently great in 2022 as it was in 2021, once again generating a run value of minus-eight. Among 134 pitchers with at least 100 plate appearances ending on the pitch, Okert’s .151 BAA ranked 15th. Circling back to weak contact, only the Mets’ Max Scherzer and Adam Ottavino had a lower hard-hit% with the slider than Okert’s 21.8. He used the slider to complete 51 of his 63 strikeouts last season (80.9%).
Other than Andrew Nardi, no Marlins reliever has a slider that gets more horizontal break than Okert (10.2 inches).
Okert has proven to be adept at stranding inherited baserunners—only 20.4% of them have come around to score off of him in the majors. The league average rate is typically in the low 30s.
Describe Okert’s Achilles heel in three song titles: “Walk” by Pantera, “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed, and “Walk On” by Neil Young. Notice a theme here? When looking underneath the hood of his pitching machine, you find more gunk than you’d initially expect.
Okert’s 1.46 differential between his ERA and FIP is third-largest in MLB since 2021 (min. 80 IP), with only the Mets’ Drew Smith (+1.61) and Tampa Bay’s J.P. Feyereisen (+1.54) skewing further in that direction. His lack of control is the culprit.
Ultimately, game outcomes determine a player’s value, not the process behind them. However, just because Okert has pitched around excessive walks and hit batsmen doesn’t mean he can continue doing so.
Okert’s 2022 season was cut short a couple weeks prematurely due to a bout of left triceps tightness.
2023 Marlins Role
ZiPS Projection: 52.2 IP, 3.76 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 3.59 BB/9, 0.2 WAR
Okert will certainly figure prominently in the team’s plans for 2023, and likely beyond that, as he remains under club control through 2026. Including Tanner Scott and the newly-acquired A.J. Puk, the Marlins bullpen now features three experienced lefties with fastball/slider-centric approaches.
Okert’s lifetime performance against lefties and righties has been indistinguishable. In 2022, he actually exhibited reverse platoon splits (.764 OPS vs. LHB, .575 OPS vs. RHB). Perhaps Skip Schumaker will utilize him in traditional medium-leverage situations initially, then let early-season results dictate where he belongs in the bullpen hierarchy.
Over/Under 60.5 games pitched for Steven Okert this season?
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