(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Matt Thornton, the Yankees’ primary left-handed reliever this season, was claimed off of waivers by the Washington Nationals.

The Nats get a decent lefty specialist who is limiting left-handed batters to a .556 on-base plus slugging this season while striking out 11 in 64 plate appearances while walking just two. He also has yet to yield an extra-base hit to a leftie this season. Against right-handers he is striking out 8.7 batters per nine innings and has not given up a home run on any of the 203 pitches thrown. However, he has struggled against the latter in terms of leaving runners on base.


Matt Thornton (Source: Fangraphs)

But as a specialist, he likely won’t be facing right-handed hitters too often.

Thornton’s bread and butter pitch to left-handed batters is the fastball, but he has increased the usage of his sinker, as well.


When behind in the count to left-handed batters, he will throw the sinker 62.5 percent of the time along with a slider (21.9 percent), mostly low and away, against which batters are 6 for 17 (.353 average against).

Matt Thornton_img

When ahead, he chooses the sinker almost exclusively (85.7 percent of the time) and is not afraid to throw it anywhere in the strike zone.

Matt Thornton_img (1)

That would help explain why left-handed batters are .333 against, but it luckily hasn’t been for extra bases (0.000 ISO).

Overall, The Nats get what they needed: a capable left-handed reliever who can help take the pressure off the bullpen for which they gave up zero assets in return, who is best used in low to medium leverage situations.