The Importance of Daniel Hudson in the 2018 Bullpen

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 10: Daniel Hudson
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 10: Daniel Hudson /

Getting good Daniel Hudson in 2018 could be the difference between the Pirate bullpen being good and being awful

In 2018 the Pittsburgh Pirates’ bullpen could be very good or be a complete disaster. The Bucs own arguably the best left-handed reliever in baseball in Felipe Rivero. Additionally, they have A.J. Schugel and George Kontos as reliable relievers to pair with Rivero at the backend of the bullpen.

This season the Pirate bullpen has been maddeningly inconsistent. The Pirate bullpen is tied for third in the National League in home run rate (1.09 HR/9), while ranking sixth in ERA (3.92), sixth in walk rate (3.46 BB/9), and ninth in FIP (4.20). A big reason for the inconsistencies of the bullpen has been the struggles of Daniel Hudson.

This past offseason the Pirates signed Daniel Hudson to a two-year 11 million dollar contract. Clint Hurdle and the Pirates planned on Hudson being the team’s primary eighth inning man. However, that did not pan out.

In 58 2/3 innings pitched this season Daniel Hudson is averaging a career-high 9.82 K/9, however, outside of his ability to generate swings and misses his season has been a struggle. He is averaging a career-worst 4.60 BB/9, and his 1.07 HR/9 is the second highest of his career. As a result he owns a 4.45 ERA, 4.26 FIP, and a 4.48 xFIP.

Earlier this season, I wrote that Daniel Hudson needed to be designated for assignment. However, this is not going to happen. That means Hudson will be looked upon to be a big part of the Pirate bullpen in 2018, and his success, or lack thereof, could be what the Pirates having a good bullpen in 2018 hinges on.

Luckily for the Pirates, Daniel Hudson has pitched much better for over a month now. In his last 16 1/3 innings pitched (dating back to August 13) Hudson has allowed just nine hits and has not allowed a home run. He owns 22 strikeouts (12.22 K/9), however, he has still struggled with control as he has walked eight batters (4.41 BB/9) during this stretch.

Daniel Hudson has also been able to limit hard contact in recent outings. His hard contact rate is just 20.6 percent during this latest stretch. His groundball rate has also improved to 52.9 percent. As a result of all of this Hudson owns a 3.31 ERA, 2.48 FIP, and a 3.69 xFIP in his last 16 1/3 innings pitched.

Hopefully the recent success of Hudson is a sign that he has found something. If he has, he should continue to finish 2017 strong and use that as a catapult into bigger and better things during the 2018 campaign.

Next: The Problem with Osuna not Playing More

In order for the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates’ bullpen to improve the team will need Daniel Hudson to improve upon his 2017 season. Over the course of the past month, Hudson has pitched better and this should instill confidence in the Pirates that a turnaround from Hudson is possible.

If Daniel Hudson is able to have a bounce-back season in 2018 the Pittsburgh Pirates should have a strong bullpen. If not, it should be another inconsistent season from the Pirates bullpen during the 2018 season.