The best pitches of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Shark Tank

5 of 5

Sep 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher

Antonio Bastardo

(59) pitches the ball against the Oakland Athletics during the eighth inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Bastardo was Neal Huntington’s big acquisition from the 2014 winter meetings.  He carries a career 3.72 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.  These numbers do not impress, but to gauge the true value of Bastardo, one needs to look no further than his strikeout prowess.  He owns a sparkling 11.4 Ks per nine innings, and a good 2.38 strikeout-walk-ratio.  This has come chiefly from his slider.

O-Swing % O-contact % SwStr% Ground ball rate Fly Ball Rate
31.5% 39.5% 18.0% 37.5% 37.5%

By far his best strikeout pitch, Bastardo doesn’t get folks to chase the slider all that much, but does get them to swing and miss a very good 18% of the time.  These numbers tell me that the slider is a miss-or-contact scenario, and not many are taken for strikes.  This is evidenced by his O-contact rate of 39.5%.  One wonders how he could have done with Russell Martin framing his pitches.  By all accounts, Francisco Cervelli is equally adept at pitch-framing, so I believe we will see the O-contact number for Bastardo decrease substantially, adding another element to this already effective pitch.

Now, of course, these are but four of the vast number of arms at Clint Hurdle‘s disposal.  Perhaps in the future we will have the same spotlight shown on Radhames Liz, Caminero, and John Holdzkom, but for now, these four are the Mount Rushmore of the 2015 version of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ shark tank.  Each have unique skills,  and are equally dependable.  For Hurdle to have two righties and two left-handers available in the sixth through ninth innings allows Hurdle the freedom to matchup at will and provides great versatility.

If they use their best pitches effectively, and play to their strengths, I see The Shark Tank easily returning to the level of mastery achieved in 2013.