Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining New Reliever David Bednar

Monday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates swung a big trade. In this trade, the Pirates sent right-handed pitcher Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres in a three-team trade involving the New York Mets. In this trade, the Pirates received five players.

The lone MLB player the Pittsburgh Pirates got in return for Musgrove is right-handed reliever David Bednar. By coming to the Pirates, Bednar is coming home. The 2016 35th round draft pick is a Pittsburgh area native being a graduate of Mars High School. He also played college baseball in Pennsylvania at Lafayette College.

The past two seasons Bednar pitched 17.1 innings for the Padres. In these 17.1 innings pitched he posted a 6.75 ERA and a 5.22 FIP, but this does not tell the whole story for Bednar.

In his MLB time Bednar has a solid 8.8% walk rate and a strong 23.8% strikeout rate. What has plagued him in the Majors has been the home run ball. He has allowed four home runs in his 17.1 MLB innings pitched, which comes out to a 2.08 HR/9.

While the results are not there yet, Bednar has the tools needed to be a quality high leverage reliever for a MLB club. FanGraphs gives both his fastball and curveball a future value of 60, while his splitter is a 50-grade pitch.

In limited MLB action, Bednar’s curveball had a 2387 spin rate in 2020, and it generated a 33.3% whiff rate. His fastball averaged a healthy 95.7 MPH to go with a 28.6% whiff rate. The aforementioned splitter generated a 25.0% whiff rate last season.

Odds are Bednar will start the 2021 season as a member of the Pirate bullpen. After the trade general manager Ben Cherington even hinted at as much. So, he should get an opportunity to make a quick impact with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

When the 2021 season begins Bednar will likely be in the Pirate bullpen. While he may be a middle reliever to start the season, he has the stuff and the opportunity to rise to being a high leverage reliever for the Pirates, especially if the team does trade Richard Rodriguez and Chris Stratton at some point.