Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Potential Bounce Back Reliever


Veteran right-handed relief pitcher Oliver Drake, looking to bounce back after battling injuries in 2020, could be a free agent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates

The 2020 MLB season was a different one for players throughout baseball. This included veteran right-handed reliever Oliver Drake. Looking to bounce back in 2021, Drake could be a free agent target of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

During his MLB career Drake has mostly be a reliable reliever. In six MLB seasons Drake has pitched 204.1 innings in 196 relief appearances. In these 204.1 innings he owns a 4.27 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 9.5% walk rate, and a 26.2% strikeout rate. He’s also done a nice job limiting the long ball allowing home runs at just a 1.06 HR/9 rate.

2020, however, was a struggle of a season for Drake. Injuries limited him to just 11 innings in 11 games with the Tampa Bay Rays. Drake posted a 5.73 ERA, 5.92 FIP, 13.3% walk rate, and a 15.6% walk rate, all of which were career worsts for Drake. His 1.64 HR/9 was also a new career worst mark for the veteran righty.

Drake also logged an inning for the Rays during the 2020 postseason. In his lone outing in the ALDS, Drake faced four batters, allowing just a single while recording a strikeout. Unfortunately for Drake, he would not be long for Tampa Bay’s postseason roster.

After struggling in 2020, the Rays designated Drake for assignment on October 11th, as he was replaced on their ALCS roster. Three days later he was outrighted. This led to Drake rejecting the assignment and electing free agency.

These results do not represent the pitcher that Drake has been, however. Due to that, there is a good chance that his 2020 struggles were due to his injury issues. He will be looking to bounce back in 2021 and this bounce back could take place with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Even with his struggles in 2020, Drake still limited hard contact. He limited opposing batters to an 86.5 MPH exit velocity and a 34.4% hard hit rate, both of which were below league average. His 6.3% barrel rate against was also just below league average.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates will be looking to add bullpen help this offseason. If they elect to do it via free agency, Drake could be a fit. Drake will likely look for a one-year deal with a team to bounce back and rebuild his value. If he were able to bounce back in 2021, and if it came with the Pittsburgh Pirates, it could also give the Bucs a good trade chip in July.