ANTONIO BASTARDO, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: September 21, 1985
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2005 (Phillies)
How Acquired: Trade (from Mets for Jon Niese)
Country: Dominican Republic
Agent: Legacy Sports Group
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Bastardo came up through the Phillies’ system as a starter, but converted to relief once he reached the majors. His performance has been very consistent over the years, despite the typically (for a reliever) fluctuating ERAs; he walks and strikes out a lot of hitters, and doesn’t allow many hits. For his career, opponents have hit 201/299/337 against him. His fastball has consistently hovered around 91-92 in the majors, except for a brief uptick when he first converted to the bullpen. He throws a lot of sliders and a very occasional change. Bastardo is a flyball pitcher, with groundball rates typically under 30%. He has not had a meaningful platoon split, allowing left-handed hitters a 185/284/337 line and right-handed hitters 211/308/336. The Pirates acquired him after the 2014 season for Joely Rodriguez and he had another solid season with them. Afterwards, he signed a two-year, free agent deal with the Mets, but struggled through the first four months of 2016. In one of the more ironic trades within memory, the Pirates reacquired Bastardo from the Mets at the deadline for Jon Niese, whom they’d acquired from the Mets, in an exchange of disappointing LHPs.
Bastardo pitched well in his pro debut, with an extremely high K rate but also a high walk rate. He started five games and relieved in six, and missed some time with shoulder tendinitis.
The Phillies moved Bastardo up to the GCL and he didn’t pitch as well, in large part due to control issues. He missed time due to a pulled groin.
The Phillies moved Bastardo up to low A and he dominated in 15 starts there. He also made one start in high A.
Still pitching as a starter, Bastardo dominated in five games in high A before being moved up to AA. He wasn’t as effective there due to control problems. Baseball America rated him the Phillies’ 11th best prospect after the season.
Bastardo returned to AA, starting off in the bullpen but moving back to the rotation after four appearances. He returned to dominant form there and the Phillies promoted him to AAA in late May. After two starts there, they called him up. He struggled through five starts with them and then went out with shoulder inflammation. He started a minor league rehab in late August, but didn’t pitch any more for the Phillies except for one inning at the end of the season. Despite the struggles in the majors, BA rated him the team’s ninth best prospect after the season.
Bastardo bounced back and forth between the Phillies and AAA, pitching entirely in relief. He dominated in the minors and pitched reasonably well in the majors. He was out from mid-June to mid-July due to ulnar neuritis in his elbow.
Bastardo spent the season with the Phillies and pitched well, even serving as closer for about a month when Ryan Madson was out. Opponents batted just .144 against him, although he was helped by a .182 BABIP.
Bastardo had a better season than his ERA indicates; his xFIP was 3.18. He had a career high K rate.
Bastardo had a season very similar to the year before, but he missed most of August and September due to a 50-game suspension for PEDs arising out of the Biogenesis investigation.
Bastardo continued to follow the pattern he had previously. He walked and fanned a lot of hitters, and allowed just a .188 opponents’ average.
Bastardo had an erratic, but mostly good, season for the Pirates. His xFIP actually was not good, at 4.27, but he benefited from a low BABIP of .246 and a high strand rate of 78.5%. He seemed to slip in and out of manager Clint Hurdle’s circle of trust, going through some periods in which he didn’t pitch a lot in high leverage situations. This probably resulted from some stretches in which he wasn’t pitching all that well. Bastardo had an opponents’ OPS well over .800 in three months (April, May and July) and well under .400 in the other three (June, August and Sept/Oct). Hurdle predictably did not use him as a lefty specialist, as nearly 70% of the plate appearances against him were by right-handed hitters. Bastardo had more of a platoon split than usual, holding left-handed batters to an OPS of .448, while right-handed batters had a .626 mark.
Bastardo signed a two-year deal with the Mets, but things didn’t go well for him in New York. The main problem was gopher balls; his HR rate (1.65) was two and a half to four times what it was in the previous three years. Some of it may have been Citi Field, which played as a HR park during the first four months of the season. Otherwise, little changed for Bastardo other than his groundball rate increasing from his career norm of about 30% (he’s a strong flyball pitcher) to 36.9%. His walk rate was high but still was exactly his career average. His K rate was down, but still high. Even so, his xFIP, which normalizes HR rates, was 4.75, nearly identical to his ERA, so it’s hard to ascribe it all to HRs. Bastardo’s velocity was down 1.4 mph from 2015, but his average velocity of 92.7 in 2015 was a career high. His velocity the previous three years was only 0.2 to 0.4 mph higher than in 2016. His velocity dipped around a month into the season, but was back up around his career norm a month before the Pirates acquired him. Maybe not coincidentally, June was by far Bastardo’s worst month. Just before the trade deadline, the Mets sent him back to the Pirates for the even more severely struggling Jon Niese. He pitched a little better for the Pirates, but not all that well. His xFIP of 4.67 was nearly identical to what it was in New York. He went from allowing a HR every five and a half innings to one every eight innings. His fastball velocity increased by half a mph.
The Pirates will control Bastardo through the 2017 season. Nothing about his pitching characteristics changed significantly in 2016; he was just slightly less effective. There’s no particular reason to think he couldn’t return to his effectiveness of 2011-15 in 2017, and he won’t be filling a key role. On the other hand, the Pirates could conclude that $6.625M is too much to pay for a middle reliever, so it wouldn’t be shocking if they tried to trade him.
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: 6/2/2009
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2017
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 7/21/2008
Options Remaining: N/A
MLB Service Time: 7.054
|February 17, 2005: Signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an international free agent.
June 1, 2009: Contract purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies.
December 10, 2014: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Joely Rodriguez.
November 2, 2015: Became a free agent.
January 22, 2016: Signed as a free agent by the New York Mets.
July 31, 2016: Traded by the New York Mets with cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jon Niese.