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A 10-strikeout relief appearance? A look at Lisandro Santos’ crazy performance with Rome last night

A 10-strikeout relief appearance? A look at Lisandro Santos’ crazy performance with Rome last night

I didn’t have a chance to write up a farm recap this morning, and it was a bad day to miss too, because there were several notable performances down on the Atlanta Braves farm on Thursday night. The most unique one by far was a 10-strikeout relief appearance from High-A Rome’s Lisandro Santos. Now the R-Braves lost last night’s game to Aberdeen by a score of 5-1, but you hardly ever see such a punchout-filled line for a reliever. Here’s how it went down.

It was the fifth inning, Rome and Aberdeen were tied at one apiece and R-Braves starter Roddery Munoz was still pitching rather well, but a lead-off single, a walk and a throwing error from a pickoff attempt had overshadowed his two strikeouts in the frame. At 84 pitches overall, Rome’s manager Kanekoa Texeira decided to go with the 23-year-old Santos, who entered the game with a stingy 1.06 ERA for the year.

The move proved to be a wise one, for Santos quickly got his team out of the jam by striking out the first batter he faced. After getting nothing from the Rome bats in the top-half of the sixth, Santos came back out for the bottom-half of the inning, but quickly surrendered the R-Braves lead when he gave up a lead-off single and then a two-run home run. However, the lefty bounced back and struck out the next three IronBirds in a row, giving him four punch outs already. Another run-less inning for Rome in the top-half of the seventh left the R-Braves still down 2-1, but in the bottom-half of the inning, Santos settled in and retired all three Aberdeen batters in 1-2-3 fashion with three-straight strikeouts once again. The eighth featured a trio of punch outs for Santos, but again it also included runs as the IronBirds drew a lead-off walk and then slugged a one-out, two-run homer to go up 5-1. Almost as if Aberdeen’s reliever was trying to keep up, the IronBirds Peter Van Loon struck out two of the four Rome batters he faced in the final frame, giving him a whopping eight punchies as well – a crazy combined 18 strikeouts for the two one-man bullpens on Thursday.

Santos’ final line: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, BB, 10 K, 2 HR

I have to say, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a reliever so dominant, yet so… not… all at the same time. At one point, Santos retired six straight batters, including seven of eight, but still managed to give up four earned runs and two long balls – all while striking out 10 of the 14 batters he faced in the appearance. A wild performance for sure.

And I’m not the only one that noticed Santos’ game last night. Tess Taruskin over at FanGraphs kicked off her “Friday Prospect Notes” column by writing about Santos and his unique line for Rome. It’s an interesting read as it includes a few details about him as a player, who signed as an international free agent with the Braves back in July of 2016.

Santos has been a solid pitcher in the Braves system over the last six seasons, currently sporting a career 3.08 ERA and 10.4 K/9 in 210.1 total innings. The southpaw reliever has been especially good so far in 2022, as he has done a much better job of limiting the free passes, averaging 3.1 BB/9 in 20.1 frames (compared to a career average of 5.3 BB/9). This is Santos’ second taste of the High-A level, coming off a 2021 campaign with Rome in which his control was all over the place, including 11 walks in just 9.2 innings; and that was after he walked 26 in 40.2 frames (5.8 BB/9) with Single-A Augusta that same year. It seems pretty fair to assume that, if he can develop more consistent control of his stuff, he could potentially crack the majors one day as a bullpen option.

I don’t usually do write-ups like this, but I didn’t want Santos’ performance to go unnoticed. His effort didn’t result in a win for Rome, but it’s very likely it’ll go down as one of the few 10-strikeout relief appearances we see in 2022.

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