Get Ready For Nick Burdi’s Breakout

(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /

2019 will be a breakout season for a young Pittsburgh Pirates reliever

One of the biggest strengths for the 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates figures to be their bullpen. Led by Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Kyle Crick, and Richard Rodriguez the team appears to have one of the best bullpens in the National League. This bullpen also includes a young righty that is ready to breakout in 2019.

This youngster is Nick Burdi. The former top pitching prospect of the Minnesota Twins, will get his first opportunity at being on a MLB roster for an entire season in 2019. One outing into his 2019 season, Burdi’s breakout appears to already be underway.

Burdi made his 2019 debut in Thursday’s 5-3 loss against the Cincinnati Reds. In the bottom of the 8th inning with the team trialing Burdi was given the task of keeping the deficit at just two runs, and this is exactly what he would do.

The 26-year-old rookie faced three batters – Scott Schebler, Jose Peraza, and Tucker Barnhart – and struck out all three of them. In the outing Burdi flashed the plus stuff that once made him a prized prospect for the Twins. His power fastball that can touch triple digits and wipe out slider were both on display in Thursday’s loss.

This outing saw Burdi pick up where he left off in Spring Training. In 10 Grapefruit League innings pitched Burdi allowed just two runs and he struck out 13 batters. Throughout the spring Burdi’s fastball/slider combo kept hitters off balance and was effective against hitters from both sides of the plate.

While Burdi is currently pitching in middle relief and low-leverage situations for the Pirates, this is something that fans should expect to change as the season progresses. He may continue to pitch in middle relief, largely due to the depth of the Pirate bullpen, but he has the pure stuff necessary for Clint Hurdle to use him in high-leverage situations.

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Burdi breaking out and evolving into a reliever that can be used in these situations would both deepen the bullpen, while also giving the Pirates insurance. It would give them insurance in case there are injuries and/or ineffectiveness from their main high-leverage relievers.

Additionally, if the Pirates are going to return to the postseason in 2019 it will be on the back of their pitching staff. So the more high-leverage quality relievers the team has the merrier, and the better their chances of returning to October.

Expect big things, and lots of strikeouts, from Burdi in 2019.