After earning another All-Star berth, reliever Felipe Vazquez is the Pittsburgh Pirates Cy Young Award winner for the first half of the 2019 season
Pitching was expected to be a strength for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. The team was expected to have both one of the best starting rotations and one of the best bullpens in the National League, while there were questions galore about rather or not the team would score enough runs.
Crazy how baseball works, isn’t it?
Anyone who has followed the Pirates this season knows that the pitching has not lived up to the preseason billing. One pitcher that has, however, is reliever Felipe Vazquez. After another dominant half of baseball, Vazquez is the team’s first half Cy Young Award winner.
Vazquez pitched in 35 games before the All-Star Break and posted both a 2.11 ERA and a 2.11 FIP on his way to earning his second consecutive All-Star bid. Vazquez’s 6.2% walk rate is the second lowest of his career while his 37.0% strikeout rate is a career high. He has allowed just three home runs and has picked up 20 saves in 21 opportunities.
When the Pirates hand a lead to Vazquez in the 9th inning, the game is all but over. He has been the one steady hand in an up an down Pirate bullpen this season. Without Vazquez, the Pirates would not be in the middle of the NL Central race at the All-Star Break.
While Vazquez has been excellent, a big reason he has emerged as the team’s first half Cy Young winner is due to injuries and ineffectiveness.
Jameson Taillon has been on the injured list since May 4th. Trevor Williams has spent time on the IL this season. Chris Archer is having the worst season of his career. Joe Musgrove, while he has been good this season, was terrible in May.
In the second half, the Pirates need Vazquez to continue to dominate. They also need the starting rotation to rise to the occasion and begin to pitch better. If these two things happen, the Pirates will have a legitimate chance at winning their first ever NL Central crown.