Do the Pittsburgh Pirates need to take four left-handed relievers north at the end of Spring Training?
The Pittsburgh Pirates project to have a strong bullpen in 2017. This will be especially true if Tony Watson can bounce back after a sub-par 2016 season. However, there is a question that remains.
This question is rather or not the Pittsburgh Pirates should take both Antonio Bastardo and Wade LeBlanc north at the end of Spring Training. Both Bastardo and LeBlanc are left-handed relievers, two other left-handed relievers (Felipe Rivero and Tony Watson) are locks to make the team, and due to these reasons there are questions if the Pirates should take both north.
The Pittsburgh Pirates should not take both Antonio Bastardo and Wade LeBlanc north at the end of Spring Training. These two pitchers are vying for the same position, the team’s lefty specialist, and one is much better than the other. That pitcher would be Antonio Bastardo.
During his career Bastardo has held left-handed batters to a .190 batting average against. This includes a .284 wOBA, 10.7 K/9, and a 3.85 FIP. Furthermore, Bastardo has also been successful against right-handed pitching (.209 average, .289 wOBA, 10.9 K/9, 3.72 FIP) in his Major League career.
More from Rum Bunter
- Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Stockwatch: Outfielder Tres Gonzalez
- Pittsburgh Pirates Podcast: Rum Bunter Radio Talks Winter Meetings Fallout
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Leadoff Hitters in 2023
- Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being Improved
- Pittsburgh Pirates Make Vince Velasquez Signing Official
As for Wade LeBlanc, the numbers are not nearly as strong. In his Major League career left-handed hitters own a .303 batting average, .379 wOBA, and 5.09 FIP off LeBlanc.
Even though Wade LeBlanc has been much better against right-handed hitting than left-handed hitting in his career, he has still not been as good as Bastardo. During his Major League career right-handed hitters have hit .255 against LeBlanc. Furthermore, they own a .326 wOBA against LeBlanc and his FIP against them is 4.80.
To be frank, Wade LeBlanc is not a very good Major League pitcher. While, yes, he had great results as a Pirate last September (1.98 FIP, 7.5 K/9, and 1.5 BB/9) his results are not sustainable. Opposing batters owned a .219 BABIP against LeBlanc last September. This indicates that he benefited from a lot of good luck and is due for some serious regression.
The Pirates also have a better bullpen option than Leblanc in right-handed pitcher A.J. Schugel. Last season Schugel posted a 3.19 FIP while averaging 7.96 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, and 0.69 HR/9 in 52 innings pitched.
Schugel also possesses the ability to retire both left and right-handed hitters. This is due to Schugel throwing one of the best change ups in the Major Leagues. In 2016 opposing hitters owned an .081 batting average, -14 wRC+, and a 34.7 percent strikeout rate against his change up. Honestly, there is no reason Schugel should start the season at Triple-A which he is currently slated to do.
The Pittsburgh Pirates do not need both Antonio Bastardo and Will LeBlanc in their bullpen. While Bastardo should make the team out of Spring Training, LeBlanc should not. His spot should be given to A.J. Schugel.