Forgotten Pittsburgh Pirates: Relief Pitcher Antonio Bastardo

In 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates had one of the best bullpens in baseball. One of their biggest contributors was left hander Antonio Bastardo, who was a bit overshadowed in his first stint with the Pirates.

In 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates had one of the most effective bullpens in baseball. Their ‘pen was second in ERA at 3.23 and FIP at 3.36, third in xFIP at 3.56, and 6th in fWAR with 19.5. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon were the biggest contributors, but they also got solid seasons from Jared Hughes and Arquimedes Caminero. But one of the many more forgotten names that was part of their pen was left-handed relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo.

Before 2015, Bastardo was one of the Philadelphia Phillies long time relief pitchers. From 2011 to 2014, the southpaw had a 3.44 ERA, 3.16 FIP and 1.18 WHIP in 235.1 innings of work. Overall, he had a sub-par walk rate with a 11.3% mark, but was striking out batters over 30% of the time at 31%. He also had a 0.76 HR/9 despite being more of a fly ball pitcher in an environment that was less pitcher friendly.

A rental at the time, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Bastardo from the Phillies for minor league pitcher Joely Rodirguez. Bastardo became a solid piece of the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen in 2015. He tossed a total of 57.1 innings and appeared in 66 games. Overall, he had a 2.98 ERA, 3.31 FIP and 1.13 WHIP.

Again, he struck out plenty of batters with a 26.8% strikeout rate, but still put up unimpressive walk numbers that had a 10.9% rate and 4.1 BB/9. Bastardo also allowed just four home runs. His ERA predictors included a 3.54 SIERA, 4.27 xFIP, but 3.39 DRA.

After 2015, Bastardo left the Pirates in free agency and signed on with the New York Mets. But his stint in New York did not last long. In 43.2 innings, Bastardo had a 4.74, 5.07 FIP and 1.42 WHIP. He was also giving up home runs at a career high rate of 1.6 per 9. And this is when the Mets sent him back to the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for another left hander who was a former Met and did not do well with the Pirates, Jon Niese.

Bastardo’s second stint with the Pirates was not as effective as his first. His final 24 innings of 2016 saw him have a 4.13 ERA, 3.94 FIP and 1.25 WHIP. He did see his home run rate drop to 1.1 per 9, and his strikeout rate rise. Overall, much better numbers than with the Mets, but a far cry from his 2012-2015 numbers.

The Pittsburgh Pirates brought Bastardo back for 2017, which would end up being his final season. He only played nine games and logged just 9 innings with the Pirates, but gave up 15 earned runs on 16 hits, nine walks, and five home runs. He walked more batters he struck out with a 8:9 K:BB ratio.

Bastardo was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 13th. He did sign a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2017-2018 offseason, but was released at the end of Spring Training.

Bastardo was one of the Pirates’ better relief pitchers in 2015, but with many other great pitchers in their pen that season, he was kind of overshadowed. But after a handful of years of success, Bastardo fell very quickly. After 2016, the former Phillie had a 5.75 ERA, 5.38 FIP, 1.52 WHIP and 4.33 SIERA.