Antonio Bastardo Once Again Excelling As A Pittsburgh Pirate

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates originally acquired Antonio Bastardo from the Philadelphia Phillies on December 10, 2014. After signing with the New York Mets this offseason, the Pirates reacquired him at the trade deadline for left hander Jon Niese. Let us analyze what has led to his success:

Antonio Bastardo in his first go around with the Pirates was a marvelous run. The left hander posted a 2.98 ERA and a 3.33 FIP in his 57.1 innings with the club. He posted a 129 ERA+, a 26.8 percent strikeout rate, and a 10.9 percent walk rate. Bastardo did all of this while only allowing inherited runners to score 11 percent of the time.

His splits as a Pirate just a season ago were also huge in his success. Right handed hitters hit only .210/.311/.315. Against left-handed hitters, Bastardo was even better, as he held lefties to a .138/.233/.215 slash line. Bastardo was a key cog for the Pirates bullpen in 2015, especially from May 8th and on when he posted a 2.45 ERA in 51.1 innings.

As a member of the New York Mets

Bastardo, who was born on this date (September 21) 31 years ago, signed with the New York Mets on January 22, 2016 for two years and $12 million. His impact on the Mets, however, was short-lived. Through his first 17 games in the Big Apple, Bastardo posted a 2.79 ERA in 19.1 innings. In his final 24 games, and 24.1 innings, Antonio posted a 6.29 ERA. He finished his tenure with the defending National League champions with a 4.74 ERA and 5.06 FIP.

So what was wrong with the pitcher that pitched so effectively from 2010-2015? Th biggest issue for Antonio Bastardo was keeping the ball in the ballpark. He’s never been a ground ball pitcher, but since his debut in 2009 through 2015, he allowed a home run only 2.1 percent of the time. In New York, though, that number nearly doubled, as he allowed an opposing batter to hit a home run 4.1 percent of the time. From 2009 through the end of 2015, had a home run to fly ball rate of only seven percent. With the Mets that number climbed up to 14.8 percent.

Back with the Pirates

So the Pirates were able to trade a pitcher in Jon Niese, a 4.91 ERA and 5.35 FIP as a Pirate, back to the New York Mets for Antonio Bastardo. To say the Mets got robbed in that trade would be a rather understatement. Niece, before being placed on the disabled list, pitched in 6 games and 11 innings for the Mets, and he posted an ERA of 11.45 and a FIP of 8.14. Bastardo, on the other hand, has posted a 2.18 ERA and a 2.99 FIP in 23 games and 20.2 innings.

The biggest difference for Bastardo has been the sharp decrease in home run percentage. He has gone from 4.1 percent as a Met to 1.2 percent as a Pirate. His walks are down, a walk rate of 10.8 percent as a Met to 8.5 percent as a Pirate. The southpaw has been more aggressive as well, throwing 66.7 percent strikes as a Pirate, compared to only 63.2 percent as a Met.

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Bastardo is back with the Pirates for next season, which is good news. His problems in New York can be contributed to a crazy high home run percentage, one that is out of the normal career for Bastardo. His other problem was a .287 BAbip, well above his career mark of .270. In his last 72 innings as a Pirate, Bastardo has posted a 2.375 ERA, and a runs allowed per nine of 2.625.

* Finally, All Numbers are from baseball-reference and fangraphs

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