Pittsburgh Pirate off-season reclamation target: Hector Rondon

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Hector Rondon
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Hector Rondon /

After being non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs, relief pitcher Hector Rondon is now on the market and a pitcher that the Pittsburgh Pirates could target as a reclamation project

While the back end of the Pirate bullpen is in good hands with pitchers such as Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, and A.J. Schugel, the team’s middle relief is in need of a boost this off-season. One available player that could provide the Pirate bullpen this boost is right-handed reliever Hector Rondon.

The 29-year-old Rondon was non-tendered by the Cubs over the weekend making him a free agent. This move was made after Rondon had an up-and-down 2017 season. However, his three previous seasons he was excellent making him a potential reclamation project for the Pirates.

Hector Rondon was plagued by the home run ball in 2017 allowing 10 home runs (1.57 HR/9) in 57 1/3 innings pitched. This is the main reason he posted a 4.24 ERA and a 4.12 FIP. Despite the home run issues, he allowed just 50 hits while averaging 3.14 BB/9 and 10.83 K/9.

Hector Rondon’s 3.43 xFIP in 2017 indicates that he is due for a bounce back season in 2018. He also had a healthy 48.3 percent ground ball rate, while allowing hard contact 30.2 percent of the time which was a two percent drop from 2016.

In 2014 – 2016 Hector Rondon pitched 184 1/3 innings for the Cubs. He allowed 149 hits, 14 home runs (0.68 HR/9), he generated a 49.5 percent ground ball rate, and he averaged just 1.86 BB/9 while striking out 9.28 batters per 9. This led to Rondon posting a 2.44 ERA, 2.76 FIP, and a 3.8 fWAR during those three seasons.

The biggest issue for Rondon in 2017 was the long ball. If he can fix this issue in 2018, he should have a strong bounce back campaign. PNC Park is a much better pitcher’s park than Wrigley Field, so it is not crazy to think a move to the Pirates could help Rondon’s home run issue.

Furthermore, Rondon being familiar with the National League Central is also a plus. This gives him plenty of experience against the hitters of the division, so he knows what to do, and not to do, against these hitters.

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Hector Rondon could give the Pirates’ middle relief a big boost in 2018. He has all the makings of being another reclamation success for the Pirates. The Bucs should pursue him now that he is available on the open market.