Pirates Winter Leagues: Duane Underwood Jr. is Off to a Solid Start in Puerto Rico

All of Monday’s action for the Pittsburgh Pirates took place in Mexico, where the playoffs started on Sunday. Tuesday night saw action in both Colombia and Puerto Rico.


Denny Roman allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks in two innings on Monday. He gave up two earned runs over two starts and 12 relief appearances during the regular season this winter.

Fabricio Macias went 0-for-3 in his second playoff game. He was 2-for-4 in the opener, with two singles.


Andres Alvarez went 1-for-4 with a run scored. He has a .358 average and a 1.019 OPS in 37 games.

Rodolfo Nolasco went 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI. He has a .202 average and a .661 OPS in 33 games.

Francisco Acuna went 0-for-5 with a walk and a run scored. He has a .239 average and a .784 OPS in 35 games.

Puerto Rico

Tsung-Che Cheng went 0-for-4. He has a .188 average in 18 games, with two doubles, a triple, two steals and five walks.

Duane Underwood Jr. made his third appearance and he threw his third scoreless inning. He allowed one hit and struck out two batters. He has six strikeouts in his three innings.

Josh Palacios went 0-for-4 with an RBI. He now has a .214 average in 20 games, with three doubles, a triple and a homer.

Shawn Ross made his first start in two weeks and he went 1-for-3 with his first double, a run scored, an RBI and a walk. He now has a .122 average in 31 games.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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The only thing I want to hear about DUJ is another three letter acronym…..DFA


I am not an Underwood fan…he is just a mediocre middle reliever and his career numbers support that assertion.

Wilbur Miller

Says a lot about Bryse Wilson that all they got was cash.


Says more about BC that they protected Wilson on the 40 man roster at the cost of Sabol and Castillo.


Too bad it wasn’t Dave Cash.

b mcferren

Cash´us Clay


I thought Considerations was a strange last name!


Im glad that DUJ is doing well… but isnt this similar to alvarez killing his winter ball? They are both playing in levels way below where they could/should be


Brothers and sisters of the congregation, we will continue to ask blessings on brother Duane, and hope he puts it together this year! Can I get an amen?


Just going off memory, not statistics, Underwood performed pretty well when called upon to pitch 1 inning. Much worse in multiple inning outings.

Some RP’s can handle the challenge of going multiple innings, most can’t. The fewer times he’s asked to pitch more than 1 inning, the better.


Underwood was paid the league minimum ($725K) and the Pirates received 10 times that amount in value returned because of his performance resulting in his 0.9 fWAR in 2022. Nice investment.


I dug through his game logs on FanGraphs. Most of the time he pitched quite well, but he got crushed five times. In two he was trying to go more than one inning; in two he failed to complete an inning; and once he staggered through an inning. Not awful, but room for improvement.

b mcferren

That’s a Duane we can all get behind. He could spank that plank.


I’m curious what’s gonna happen with him, he was tender a contract, he’s out of options and I don’t see him making the club out of ST. I’m guessing his salary and mediocrity will make it easy for him to pass through waivers.


Pitch him 1 inning. It’s the 2nd inning that gets him killed. Look it up. Our Manger could screw up a 1 car funeral


I just posted the same thing, which caused me to look it up to verify we’re right. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be the case. His ERA in multiple inning outings was 3.18 last season. Vastly better than his 4.40 ERA for the season.

There are certainly better ways to evaluate performance than ERA, but I’m too lazy to do the research. Maybe your looking at different data when making your claim?


FIP 2.92, SIERA of 3.74 (Above Avg), Hard Hit reduced from 35.7% in ’21 to 25.6% in ’22.

His first year away from Chicago was tough, 0.2 fWAR, but he had a solid season in ’22 and returned the value of 0.9 fWAR.


Not the biggest fan of fWAR for Pitchers, but when combined with FIP & SIERA numbers, there’s definitely a case to be made he was an effective middle reliever.


All we need is one front office more delusional than ours!

Wilbur Miller

I think we should be thankful that he’s solidifying his spot as the go-to, 4.50 ERA guy. Shelton needs that kind of stability.


I know I’m in the minority here, but I will take Underwood over Crowe any day. I don’t understand why it seems that Crowe has a spot locked up, after a good two months or so he was horrific the rest of the way. Blowing 2,3, even 4 run leads on a regular basis.
And let’s not forget giving up 5 to the Yankees while recording no outs.

Last edited 24 days ago by PirateRican21

I think both can be serviceable if they’re used properly – and that of course is the big question.

Last edited 24 days ago by john_fluharty

It’s interesting that by bWAR Crowe had the slightly better year (0.1 vs. -0.5) but by fWAR Underwood had the better year (0.9 for DUJ vs. -0.1). In fact, by fWAR, Underwood was our second best reliever.

The difference matches my impression–Crowe had slightly better results but when you reduce the luck component, Underwood was (and is) the better pitcher. I was glad they tendered him.

Wilbur Miller

For relievers, I kinda like WPA. It’s not a predictive stat and it can show pretty absurd results in a SSS. In fact, I think it’s useful for evaluating the manager as well as the pitchers. WPA has Underwood at -0.66 and Crowe at -2.20, which imo accurately reflects how useful they’ve been.
The Pirates’ bad relief pitching has been a product of Hodge’s preference for low-ceiling middle relievers and Podge’s rigid, tenure-track approach to relief roles. Neither of them has a clue what works in today’s game. They probably have the personnel now to piece together an effective pen, but only if they get past their obsession with guys like Crowe and Underwood.


I also like WPA for relievers, though of course it’s very dependent on how and how much a manager uses a reliever.

I just checked and Crowe ranked 150 out of 152 relievers in WPA. I think the combination of his WPA+ (which was pretty good) and his WPA- (which was second worst) tells the story–early on he added a lot but when he struggled, he struggled badly. Shelton’s decision to stick with him is highly questionable.


“In fact, I think it’s useful for evaluating the manager as well as the pitchers.”

Thank Jeebus it’s Shelty’s last year.

Wilbur Miller

Wish I could count on that.

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