Only 44 days until Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20: Tony Watson
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20: Tony Watson /

In just 44 days, pitchers and catchers will report to Bradenton for the Pittsburgh Pirates starting Spring Training 2018

Happy New Year, Pittsburgh Pirates fan! Now that we are officially in 2018, Spring Training keeps inching closer and closer.

In fact, we are just 44 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Bradenton for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Just six measly weeks stand between Pirate fans and the start of Spring Training.

Currently, utility man Chris Bostick wears number 44 for the Pirates. In 32 Major League plate appearances last season Bostick owned a .405 on-base percentage, .351 wOBA, 116 wRC+, and a 0.2 fWAR.

Whenever Pirate fans think of the number 44, however, they probably think of the man who wore it for the previous six seasons left-handed relief pitcher Tony Watson wore 44 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His run with the number started in 2012, after he wore number 65 in 2011, and ended was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31st last season.

At the beginning of his time as number 44 for the Pirates, Tony Watson was one of the best left-handed relief pitchers for the Pirates. From 2012 – 2015 Tony Watson averaged 2.17 BB/9, 8.20 K/9, and he allowed just 18 home runs in 277 2/3 innings pitched. This led to him owning a 2.24 ERA and a 3.05 FIP during this stretch. Additionally, he was named a National League All-Star in 2014.

Likely due to the number of innings he had logged on his left-arm the previous four seasons, Tony Watson began to break down in 2016. From the start of the 2016 season until he was traded in July of 2017, Watson allowed 17 home runs while averaging just 7.32 K/9 in 114 1/3 innings pitched. He owned a 3.31 ERA, 4.51 FIP, and watch as his role in the Pirate bullpen diminished and he was removed from high-leverage situations.

Next: The Pirate offseason needs a direction

Tony Watson is currently a free agent. While his career in Pittsburgh did not end well, he was still a vital member of the Pirates reaching the postseason in three consecutive seasons from 2013 – 2015. For that, Pirate fans should always be thankful of Mr. Watson because in 2012 – 2015 things were indeed Elementary for Dear Watson.