In September, did Edgar Santana lock up a 2018 bullpen spot?

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 29: Edgar Santana
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 29: Edgar Santana /
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In 2018, the Pittsburgh Pirates will rely heavily upon young relievers. One of these relievers will be righty Edgar Santana

25-year-old Edgar Santana made his Major League debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017. This came after Pirate fans had spent the past few years hearing all about the wipeout slider he had been using to put up great results in the minor leagues.

After recording the first 18 innings of his Major League career in 2017, Edgar Santana will be counted upon by the Pirates to be a big part of their bullpen moving forward. Could this start as soon as Opening Day 2018? Well, after the September Santana had it is certainly possible.

The overall numbers this season for Edgar Santana were not overly pretty. While his ERA was 3.50, his 4.55 FIP and 4.49 xFIP were not as encouraging.

A big reason for his high FIP was due to Santana averaging 6.00 BB/9. However, to his credit, as his appearances started to add up his ability to strand baserunners improved. This was evident by his left on base rate jumping from 67.9 percent during his first Major League stint, to a sparkling 100 percent during the month of September.

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Now, obviously, a 100 percent strand rate is not sustainable. But the 80.2 percent strand rate Edgar Santana finished the season with is plenty strong enough to get the job done over a full Major League season.

In 2017 Santana also did a good job of limiting hard contact. He allowed hard contact 29.2 percent of the time, which is below league average, and this number was especially strong in September when it was 18.2 percent.

In his strong month of September, Santana pitched 8 2/3 innings in nine games. He did not allow a run, he gave up just four base hits, and he struck out six. This followed his season trends as he allowed just 16 hits and two home runs while recording 20 strikeouts (10.00 K/9) in 18 innings pitched this season.

During the season’s final month Santana also saw his role grow. It was clear that Clint Hurdle’s faith in Santana grew as the month progressed, and he began to pitch in high leverage situations for the first time in his Major League career. This is a good sign for Santana, as it is a sign that his manager trusts him to get outs.

Entering the offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ appear to have a few locks for their bullpen. Felipe Rivero, A.J. Schugel, George Kontos, and Daniel Hudson all appear to be locks to be part of the 2018 Opening Day bullpen. Dovydas Neverauskas probably is not far behind them.

Will Edgar Santana join these players in the bullpen when the 2018 season begins? While only time will tell, he should be.

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