Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Best Relief Pitchers in Franchise History

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Pittsburgh Pirates
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 29: A general view during the spring training game between the Minnesota Twins and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Century Link Sports Complex on February 29, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Ramon Hernandez

I consider lefty set-up man Ramon Hernandez one of the most underrated relief pitchers in Pittsburgh Pirates history. From 1971 up through his final season with the club, which ended part way through 1976, Hernandez served as an outstanding 8th inning man to another name we’ll talk about later.

Hernandez has a career 2.51 ERA, 2.53 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP in his 347 innings pitched with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hernandez was outstanding at control. He walked just 2.87 batters per 9 innings, and had a 7.7% walk rate. But his greatest strength with the Pirates was limiting home runs.

With the Pirates, Ramon let 14 baseballs leave the ballpark, including a 64 inning run in 1975 where he let up none. His 0.36 HR/9 is the 4th best in Pirates history of relief pitchers (min. 150 IP).

Hernandez also pitched 8.1 innings of postseason play with the Pirates. In these 8.1 innings of work he allowed 3 earned runs on seven hits, a walk, a home run, and five strikeouts.

Overall, Hernandez had a 71 ERA- and 83 FIP-, showing he was an extremely reliable pitcher for the era. He also had a 139 ERA+ according to Baseball Reference.