The Mystery of Ramon Troncoso

Often times when watching a White Sox game, Ramon Troncoso enters from the bullpen, and I wonder why he is on the team.

Last night’s game was one of those times, as he served up an off-speed pitch up in the zone to Jason Giambi that still hasn’t landed yet, ending the game on a walk-off home run.


Troncoso was close to dominant for the Charlotte Knights before being called up in early June, but has shown in his 20 appearances since that he’s largely ineffective. He’s got a 5.59 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, and is a strikeout pitcher that’s just striking out 6.98 hitters per nine innings.

While none of that is any good, the most telling stats for relief pitchers could be LOB% and IS% (left-on-base percentage and inherited runners scored percentage). While IS% is not that bad at 21%, his LOB% percentage is 49.7% according to fangraphs. Since the league average is usually around 70%, and 60% is considered awful, it’s hard to put into context how bad Troncoso’s number is.

Basically whenever Troncoso allows a batter to reach base, the odds of that guy crossing the plate is the same as a coin flip. That doesn’t really spell success, and maybe that’s why the White Sox are 3-17 when he appears in a game. Yes, much of that is out of Troncoso’s control, but that’s still a stat that says the Sox don’t win much when he’s out there. Plus, it’s also quite comical.

The puzzling part of this whole thing is that he actually has a nice repertoire. He possess a mid-90s fastball with movement and decent off-speed stuff with some bite. He’s had success at the MLB level too, having been a key part of the Dodgers bullpen when they won the National League West in 2009.

However, Troncoso’s better days seem behind him. Since he’s 30 years of age and likely doesn’t have much of a future with the ballclub, why is he still on the roster? It’s hard to figure out, as there are young relievers down in AAA like Simon Castro who have shown flashes of success at this level already. It seemingly would make more sense to cut ties with Troncoso and have Castro or someone else pitch for the White Sox. Other teams probably wouldn’t be chomping at the bit for Troncoso’s services if he hit the open market either.

However, we are stuck watching Troncoso for now, as it seems like the White Sox are afraid to designate him for assignment and lose him. It’s hard to figure out why, but I guess that’s part of the mystery that is Ramon Troncoso.