The Pittsburgh Pirates had a clear need when the offseason started: Left-handed pitching.
They entered the offseason without a single lefty on the roster — starter or reliever.
The free agent signing of Jarlin Garcia was followed by the Rule 5 selection of Jose Hernandez, giving them two lefty relievers on the roster.
A few minor league signings later, and the Pirates will have five total left-handed relievers in camp this spring. While the first two have a leg up on the competition, it’s no where near a guarantee.
Here are each of the left-handed relief pitchers in camp, and what they could bring to the major league roster.
He signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract in the offseason, and that makes him one of the few true locks in the bullpen. After a rough first two seasons in the majors, Garcia has been fantastic, posting a 2.89 ERA (144 ERA+) across 202.2 innings from 2019-2022.
It probably wouldn’t be fair to call him a lock for the 26-man roster, but if the Pirates want to keep him in the organization, he almost has to be. With a fastball that touches triple-digits, how effective his slider is going to be at the next level will be a determining factor for the Rule-5 pick.
Jose Hernandez hit 99 with his fastball, then threw 3 consecutive 98s, then finished the inning by dropping a hammer.
He hasn't allowed a run in his last 3 outings, 8 out of his last 9, & 12 out of his last 14. He has 21 Ks to just 4 walks this month. #dodgers pic.twitter.com/MWON2a9tgT
— Dodgers Daily (@dodger_daily) September 4, 2022
He posted a 29.7% strikeout rate in 38.2 innings last year in Double-A while with the Dodgers.
This was a late signing for the Pirates, happening only a few days before pitchers and catchers report.
A former starter turned reliever, Smith won 10 games back in 2019 with the Miami Marlins, posting a 4.52 ERA across 28 starts and 153.1 innings pitched. His strikeout rate has dropped in each year since, but he also has over 400 career innings pitched, making him an interesting veteran option should he make the roster.
Has struggled in the 19.2 innings he has pitched in the majors, none of which came in 2022. Perdomo averages a tad under 95-mph on his fastball, and has a track record of striking out hitters, but struggles with his control.
He reached Double-A in the Pirates system in 2018 before moving on to the Mets. Zamora has a 28.4 K% in 22 career major league innings, and like Perdomo, pitched in the minors during the 2022 season.
Daniel Zamora's slider, as spinny as ever. #Mets pic.twitter.com/D1LXYatgLU
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) March 10, 2019
He’s also struck out 28.2% of the batters he’s faced in just over 300 career minor league innings.
He has more major league innings than both Perdomo and Zamora, but hasn’t done too much with it. Pitching at Triple-A, but in two organizations, Zastryzny posted a 3.42 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 55.1 innings last year.
Among his 205 appearances in the minors, over half have been starts, including six last year. The Pirates experimented with Zach Matson as an opener in Triple-A, which is something Zastryzny looks like he’d be capable of.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**Today is the first day of workouts at Pirate City. I’ll be there providing coverage. Wilbur Miller will have a photo gallery of the first workout tomorrow afternoon.
**Anthony wrote about how injuries limited the first full season for Henry Davis, the first overall pick in 2021.
**Carlos Jimenez recently ranked at #17 in the FanGraphs top prospect list. Anthony looked at the advanced pitch mix he flashed at a young age.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at whether the Pirates should use a six-man rotation throughout their minor league system.
Song of the Day
I previously posted that the Pirates needed players that can shown them how to win and hold them accountable. Now they have Cutch, Choi, Santana on the hitting side and Hill on the pitching side they can do that. I hope I was right and these players show the young guns what is expected from a winning team.
Not on this topic, but reynolds said in an interview the trade request is still out there but willing to negotiate extension while I was told DK implied somewhere that an extension is imminent
I’d certainly like it to be true, but Reynolds said just a few hours ago that there’d been no developments. He seems like an unusually straightforward guy, when he chooses to say anything, so I’m skeptical. But we can hope.
I have been and still am in the trade Reynolds camp (though at the deadline, not now since the return wont diminish enough to move the needle with his contractual control) as the final sell type of move to this rebuild both for the return and the “closing of the book” psychological factor but he seems like a genuinely honest person which earns major bonus points in my book. With Cutch personally deciding to come back my thoughts are changing to let them play together for a year and see how Reynolds grows as a person, not a player, from being around Cutch and go back to the negotiation table next winter.
On top of this, it’s being reported that the parent company of AT&T SportsNet “fell short of paying its full obligation” to the Pirates. MLB says they’ll ensure that games will be broadcasted but it sounds like there may be a bit of a cashflow problem in the short-term. At the very least, that wouldn’t seem to encourage Nutting to commit to a market-value extension.
Kim Ng or Reynolds or Nutting budges first ?
If they extend Reynolds into his FA years, I’ll not say a bad word about Nutting for the entire season (unless they turn around and trade Reynolds at the deadline). It would be a huge statement about their willingness to spend to contend.
we have a bushel of outfielders who each have as much hype as Reynolds held as a minor league prospect
Canaan, Jack, Swaggerty, Bae, Mitchell are all in the same category as we put 2017/2018 Reynolds in
Reynolds surprised all of us to become what he is today and with the right tweaks, so can each of those five outfielders listed
I would much rather Cutch convince each of them to take the next step up
give all the money to Oneil now and cash in on Reynolds with a starting pitcher
Reynolds has reached what was probably his 90th percentile result, so if we have 10 OFs comparable to Reynolds we might expect to get another Reynolds. But we don’t have 10 prospects that we might project comparable to what Reynolds was projected at. Plus, we need three OFs and we’re definitely not getting three Reynolds from the OFs in our system. Lock down Reynolds and then focus on the other two OF positions.
I do agree that we should extend Cruz, if he’s willing to sign a Marte-type extension. I’d also look into an early extension for Endy. Several teams (Guardians, Rays, Braves, …) have been locking up multiple players. Evidently the money is there through the new CBA, so a Reynolds extension shouldn’t keep us from other extensions.
locking up an outfielder is foolish for the limited amount of money we have
there is always a spare outfielder dude on the free agent wire to fill in the worse case scenario – – Braves have done this consecutively for years
we could be spending that money on pitching
But the Braves have one outfielder locked in first before playing free agent roulette for the 3rd. Big difference.
“Limited amount of money we have” or limited amount of money we choose to spend? I’m confident, based on other teams’ spending, that we can commit ~$15MM per year and still have plety of resources to acquire/keep pitching, etc. I think an 8-year deal with an AAV of ~$15MM would get it done, possibly with the last couple of years being team-option years.
Front load it, and the present value of the contract is even higher.
meh – – we all know those two are the same thing
You want to see something funny. The Cubs bullpen is so bad. Go on Fangraphs and look at all the NRI RP’s. They are hoping some sh*t sticks to the wall.
I’m not in the we are gonna finish close to 80 wins club, but I do think we will finish ahead of the Cubs.
I think the cubs threw together a bunch of random stuff/players. It usually doesn’t work out well. You need continuity on team. Those core players that you build around and are familiar with one another.
Although, I do like Dansby, Hoerner, Trey Mancini, Marcus Stroman, and Hayden Wesneski. And I do think the “no shift” rule will help Bellinger. I’m not completely out on Madrigal just yet either. He just needs to stay healthy. I just believe they need atleast a year of playing together b4 they are able to be competitive.
And I do like acouple of their prospects; Pete Crow Armstrong, Kevin Alcantara, Matt Mervis, Ben Brown, Cade Horton, DJ Hertz and Nazier Mule. If I collected baseball cards still I would buy Crow Armstrong and Kevin Alcantara auto/patch rookies.
I think Belli is done, Swanson is not that much better than Hoerner, yes he had a great 22 and if this is him going forward then yes, but I have my doubts. Swanson also makes Madrigal expendable unless Hoerner moves to 3b, rotation is middle of the road and the pen is suspect. I hope I’m right, a Susuki break out might make me look very foolish!
Hoerner is a gold glove caliber 2B. I can’t see them moving him off 2B.
I was a big fan of that Oregon State state team of Madrigal, Rutschman, Steven Kwan and Trevor Larnach. Before last season it was the last time I was really into college baseball. Just got back into it last season though and super excited for this season.
But anyways, Madrigal is probably a bust but I’m still holding out hope..lol.
I’m not a big believer is Susuki. Happ either. Happ sold out for 25 HR in 2021 but hit only .220. He’s more of a 12-18 HR guy; like last season and most of his career.
I just think they got acouple players to build around now. They can build around a MI of Dansby/Hoerner and a pitching staff of Stroman/Wesneski. And Matt Mervis at 1B. I think bringing in Hosmer to block Mervis was a mistake though.
Hendricks, Taillon, Steele, Caleb Killian as 3-4-5 SP’s isn’t bad either. With Ben Brown, Jordan Wicks, DJ Hertz and Cade Horton not far behind.
And an OF of Happ/Crow-Armstrong/Susuki isn’t bad. With Alcantara not far behind.
It’s not great but they got some building blocks again.
Last year, Jarlin Garcia rated as one of the worst of the qualified relievers listed (No. 134 of 152) by FG with an fWAR of -0.1 for the Giants. The year before in 2021 he was a +0.4 fWAR, also for the Giants. Why? BABIP was up almost 50 points from ’21 to ’22, and his HR/9 and HR/FB numbers were also up considerably. Those are not positive signs.
I’m pretty sure that BABIP has nothing to do with fWAR. fWAR uses FIP, so a big decline in fWAR probably has more to do with an increase in HRs and decline in Ks.
To be perfectly honest, I would not have a clue as to the specifics involved in arriving at fWAR. But, I did take note of some of the offensive stats against him that increased a lot from one year to the next and probably contributed to why his fWAR took a dive.
He got “barreled up” pretty good last year, big increase over 2021. I know that’s more Statcast, batted ball data, but it was a notable difference and led to a much higher wOBA and xwOBA against.
Actually, a higher FB rate in the second half PLUS a higher HR rate. Trend? Noise? Beats me.
It would be a JOY to see the Pirates wives dancing on the dugout roof to Sister Sledge, while McCutchen circles the bases walking of the Braves…
My first thought was you gotta save that video for the next time we clinch a playoff spot. But my second thought was no harm in using it again.
When the wives were dancing after Game 5, I believed we’d win games 6 and 7. Today’s generation would say the wives manifested those wins.
No doubt, but all I am hoping for is that he can inspire some of the kids and bring some positivity into that clubhouse.
Is it at all possible to project a date for when they move beyond Shelton and give Don Kelly a chance?
They extended Shelton last year. With the attitude of winning this year, he may have the opportunity to show what he knows about managing. If anything!
Cot’s has Shelton listed as having a contract for 2020 thru 2023 – 4 years. Even though that was the case, I was advocating for him to be fired after last year and eat the final year. Not sure the Pirates have ever made public the amount he is being paid.
I see us at the point where we have players who can help us move forward and be competitive in the near future – carrying the last 3 years of Shelton’s baggage is an unnecessary negative.
I know he is the bench coach, but in my completely uninformed opinion, that does not mean the Pirates see Kelly as their next manager. He has only been working in the management/coaching side of the game since the 2019 season. He was scouting for the tigers before becoming first base coach for the astros and then skyrocketing to bench coach for the Pirates.
With 2020 being a partial year, he has very little experience doing what he is doing let alone the next job up the ladder.
This isn’t to say he won’t continue moving in that direction. He is obviously a favorite hometown candidate eventually, but being named bench coach during the tank years might be leading fans to jump to conclusions. This was an opportunity to get him valuable experience when the team wasn’t under pressure to win. They could be “training” him out of order, so to speak. By which I mean he could just as easily take another crucial position under a new manager and continue his “grooming” by learning another aspect of the org. If the pirates really see him as a possible long term manager they won’t want to set him up to fail.
Frankly, I would be skeptical of starting a contention window with someone that green in charge and I suspect Ben will be too. That doesn’t mean the pirates don’t have him in mind for manager and, obviously, I know nothing other than how organizations that I’ve been part of work when they are preparing a young acolyte to become powerful.
Really hoping Jose Hernandez falls into the “one mans trash is another mans treasure” category.
Dodgers have a pretty good track record of developing arms. Who knows, maybe Hernandez turns into this team’s Tony Watson?
Wouldn’t necessarily call him trash yet, maybe a possible gem. He has not trown a pitch yet, maybe gold nugget, but know what you are saying
I didn’t call him trash, but the Dodgers clearly did.
The Dodgers clearly thought he was trash? I don’t think so. His numbers were VERY good in the lower levels. He just got roster squeezed and not put on the 40-man by one of the highest payroll teams in MLB.
I just hope, if he makes the team, he doesn’t get Ciriaco’d.
New candidate for Oviedo’s Closet……lol
Agreed! Striking gold on Hernandez would be great for the pen long term.
They seem to have gathered a decent amount of higher upside (with lower floor) arms. Seeing a couple develop into anchors would go a long way for them.
I feel as though having one or two of the young guys coming up in the bullpen (Hernandez, de los Santos, Selby, etc.) and establishing themselves as a dependable MLB reliever is one of the more important developmental aspects to look to this season to move forward to being truly a division title contending team.