Following an injury shortened 2019 season, Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Nick Burdi has been turning heads in Spring Training and looks primed for a big 2020 season.
The 2018-2019 off-season was an uneventful one for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, one move the team made was trading international bonus pool money to the Philadelphia Phillies for reliever Nick Burdi after the Phillies selected Burdi from the Minnesota Twins in the Rule 5 Draft.
Burdi quickly became a big part of the Pirate bullpen and looked primed for a breakout season in 2019. From the get go in 2019, former Pirate manager Clint Hurdle was trusting Burdi in high leverage situations. However, due to a nerve issue in his right arm, Burdi’s season was cut short. After just 8.2 innings that saw him strikeout 17 batters, Burdi’s season ended before the month of April did.
Burdi, however, is now healthy. As a result, he has been dominant thus far in Spring Training. As Burdi continues to turn heads in Pirate camp, he is quickly solidifying himself as a breakout candidate for 2020.
In Thursday afternoon’s loss against the Tampa Bay Rays, Burdi made his fourth appearance of the Grapefruit League season. In the outing, Burdi retired all three batters he faced. This included striking out two of the three.
Burdi has logged 3.2 innings in his four outings this spring. In these 3.2 innings he has allowed a run on three hits, a walk, a home run, and seven strikeouts. More than just the results, his stuff has flashed.
The power fastball that Burdi possesses has consistently been sitting in the high 90s, while hitting 100+ more than once. His wipeout slider has looked as tight and wicked as ever, too. If this continues into the regular season, Burdi will quickly become one of the team’s best relief pitchers.
Due to spending so much time on the injured list last season, Burdi still carries Rule 5 status. As a result, he must spend at least the first month of the season on the Pirates roster or else the team will have to return him to the Twins. This made Burdi close to a lock to crack the Opening Day bullpen from the outset this spring. But with his performance this spring, Burdi has not only solidified his spot in the bullpen, he may be solidifying his role as one of the key set up men for closer Keone Kela.