Eric Lauer had a breakout season last year, but he’s taken a huge step forward in 2022.
Lauer had a reputation of being a solid starter who could eat innings. He wasn’t considered flashy, but he was dependable. The Mets were linked to him as a potential fifth starter after the spring training injuries to Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker, plus the brief concern over Max Scherzer.
This year, he’s become flashy. He’s made six starts and pitched 34.2 innings, allowing 26 hits, 10 earned runs, eight walks, and 49 strikeouts. His ERA is 2.60, his FIP is 3.61, his WHIP is 0.98, and his ERA+ is 157. Prior to this season, his career high K/9 over a full season was 8.9. This year, it’s 12.7 and his K/BB is also a career-best 6.13.
He’s in the 95th percentile in strikeout rate, 78th percentile in whiff rate, 75th percentile in walk rate, and 70th percentile in chase rate. He does give up hard contact (17th percentile in barrel rate, 19th percentile in hard hit rate, 25th percentile in average exit velo), but since he’s not allowing many baserunners, teams are doing much damage against him. He’s given up seven home runs so far this season, and just 10 earned runs, so they’re mostly solo shots.
He made some major changes to his pitch usage that have been very effective for him. Last year, he threw his 4-seam fastball about 44% of the time, his cutter 18%, his curveball 14%, his slider 12%, and his changeup 11%. This year, his 4-seamer usage is down to 36%, and he basically scrapped his changeup (2%). His cutter (22%), slider (22%), and curveball (18%) are all up. He’s become a breaking ball pitcher, and it’s working for him.