Forgotten Pittsburgh Pirates: Starting Pitcher Erik Bedard


In 2012, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Erik Bedard for their rotation. Despite a strong start to the season, it didn’t end well for either side.

In 2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a blazing hot start. By the All-Star Game, they were 47-43, and in prime position to make a run for the playoffs. Something they hadn’t done since 1992.

But the team completely fell off in the second half. Not only did they miss the playoffs, but they finished with a below .500 record for the 19th season in a row. One of the biggest culprits was pitching. While Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens had put up overall solid in 2011, many of their other rotation arms like Kevin Correia and James McDonald did not carry their own weight, especially down the stretch.

So in order to fix that, the Pittsburgh Pirates added a few starters. One was A.J. Burnett, and the other was lefty Erik Bedard. At the time, this seemed like a strong addition.

Bedard was veteran left-handed pitcher who was still putting up overall good results. After missing all of 2010 rehabbing  from a shoulder injury, Bedard came back in 2011 and posted promising numbers. In 129.1 innings, the former Orioles ace had put up a 3.62 ERA, 3.64 FIP and 1.28 WHIP. Bedard had also induced ground balls 42% of the time, resulting in a solid 0.97 HR/9. Although Bedard did not carry a high strikeout rate in 2011 at 23.1%, he also did not walk that many batters either owning a 8.9% walk rate.

It’s not like he over-performed what he was expected to do either. Bedard’s xFIP sat at 3.56 and his SIERA was 3.59 while carrying a DRA of 3.73.

Plus, this was the results of a pitcher who had missed an entire season. From 2006 to 2009, Bedard had established himself as a force out of the Orioles’ and Mariners’ rotations. Through 542.1 innings, Bedard had worked a 3.40 ERA, 3.56 FIP and a 1.23 WHIP. He let up home runs at a rate of just 0.86 per 9, and a 46.3% ground ball rate. Plus with a 24.4% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate, there was a lot to like about Bedard.

So when the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Bedard, it seemed like they were getting a competent starter who could give them some pretty good work out of the rotation, and that’s what it looked like to start the season. Bedard was their Opening Day starter, and he fired 7 innings of one run ball against the Philadelphia Phillies. He did allow six hits, but he walked just one batter, and struck out four.

In the first two months of 2012, the Pirates had gotten a pretty good return on investment. Bedard’s first 52 innings with the Pirates yielded a 3.12 ERA, 3.40 FIP and 1.35 WHIP. Opponents managed an OPS of just .689 off of him. Those numbers up through that point even rivaled Rays’ ace David Price who had a 2.71 ERA, but an identical 3.40 FIP and similar 1.25 WHIP.

But like the rest of the Pittsburgh Pirates team in 2012, Becard started to falter. Just Bedard started to fall off before many of the other Pirates. From June onward, Bedard’s ERA rose to 6.35, and gave up 34 free passes in only 73.2 innings. He surrendered 10 more home runs, and saw his FIP rise to 4.55. One of the biggest culprits of his downfall was his lack of being able to not let base runners score. His left on base percentage fell from nearly 80% through April and May to below 60% from June onward.

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By the end of August, Bedard was released from his contract with the Bucs. Bedard’s final line with the Pirates included a 5.00 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 10.1% walk rate. Bedard was a bit unlucky, seeing as his FIP was 4.07, xFIP was 4.05, DRA was 3.90 and his SIERA was 4.19, but it was still far from promising. The Pirates looked like they had struck gold when they first signed Bedard. It looked like they had signed a potential All-Star when May ended. Sadly, it just didn’t work out for the Pittsburgh Pirates, or Erik Bedard.