The 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Rotation
The Wandy Rodriguez trade was a plus for Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington. It was a rather under the radar move, but when you look at the production and the low cost it was a much more important move.
The 2014 season could put it over the top.
Rodriguez is going to be forced to grab his player option after his injury to his flexor tendon in his forearm shut him down in 2013.
While we don’t like Rodriguez not pitching through the pain in 2013, we understand it. Let’s trust the rest brings back a fresh Rodriguez playing for a final contract after the 2014 season.
The Pirates don’t know what they have with their portly southpaw as they head into the 2014 season, but one thing we’ve seen from Wandy over the past few years is his ability to abuse opposing pitchers piling up strikeouts against opposing pitchers, while his strikeouts of everyone else have reduced.
Before the season started, Fangraphs had an article that looked at Gio Gonzalez piling up strikeouts against opposing pitchers—more than any pitcher had in four decades. In 2012, the Nationals southpaw, had 41 strikeouts of opposing pitchers.
And in second place was the Pittsburgh Pirates Wandy Rodriguez who sent 34 pitchers back to their dugout with a strikeout.
It’s nice to see Rodriguez abusing the opposing pitchers. We recall the Bucs staff having had their ups and downs in regards to getting the opposing pitcher out. But the numbers made us want to take a quick look at Rodriguez’s strikeouts over the years. It didn’t take long to understand that those strikeouts are fading away. That concerns us a bit.
Neal Huntington addressed the declining strikeouts after the deadline deal was complete for the southpaw when he stated that Wandy had traded strikeouts for groundball outs.
But let’s take a look at the decline: in 2008, Wandy put up 8.58 strikeouts per nine, in 2009 he had 8.45, in 2010 8.22 and starting in 2011 the decline quickened with 7.82 and he finished 2012 with just 6.08.
Wandy had 139 total strikeouts in 2012. About six strikeouts per nine innings which is the worst K/9 he has posted since he was a rookie in 2005. In 2012, he struck out 27 less batters while pitching 14 more innings than he did in 2011.
Thank God for concentrating on the pitcher.
Be sure to go check out the article which focuses on the tremendous run Gio had ‘abusing pitchers’ in 2013. As Jeff Sullivan’s article says in closing:
"Let it never be suggested that there’s anything in baseball that can’t be analyzed"
The strikeouts are declining. The arm is in question. But the money isn’t really a whole lot with the Houston Astros writing payroll checks to Wandy for $5.5 million when the lefty exercises the option this year.
The Bucs will pay $7.5 million dollars and cross their fingers that Wandy comes out of the gate next April like he did this year. More strikeouts. More groundballs. Rested. Confident. And hopefully they make him keep that left arm warm.
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