Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Tony Sipp


Could a veteran left-handed reliever be a free agent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason?

The 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates’ bullpen should be excellent. However, their middle relief could use a boost. The ‘pen needs another left-handed reliever as well.

Last week, we discussed ex-Pirate Justin Wilson as a possible free agent target to help the bullpen. You can read more about Wilson and his potential fit back in Pittsburgh here. Another free agent left-handed reliever that could be an offseason target for the team is the 35-year-old Tony Sipp.

Sipp is a ten-year MLB veteran having pitched for the Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Houston Astros who he has spent the past five seasons with. Sipp’s work includes one season in the National League, which came with Arizona in 2013.

Last season Sipp posted career lows in both ERA (1.86) and FIP (2.41). His 8.6% walk rate was tied for the second lowest of his career, his 27.8% strikeout rate was his highest since 2015, and his 0.9 fWAR was tied for the second best of his career.

During his career Sipp has always been more effective against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters. However, in 2018 he had his best season against RHHs.

On top of dominating LHHs to the tune of a .294 slugging percentage, .249 wOBA, and a 22.4% strikeout rate in 2018, he had strong numbers against RHHs as well. Righty batters slugged just .328 with a .267 wOBA while striking out 33.4% of the time against Sipp in 2018.

In his career, LHHs have had moderate success with power against Sipp. Lefties have slugged .409 off of Sipp in his career, but he’s held them to a .308 wOBA while owning a 22.4% strikeout rate. Against righties, Sipp’s career numbers are almost identical. RHHs have slugged .409 off of Sipp in his career to go with a .311 wOBA and a 28.2% strikeout rate.

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If Sipp found something last season that led to his increased success against RHHs then the value he could bring to the Pirate bullpen is even higher. At worst, he could be a weapon for Clint Hurdle to use against one of the many great left-handed hitters in the NL Central.