Pittsburgh native and Pirates reliever David Bednar has had an impressive rookie season, one that has potentially made him a key part of the long term plans.
Over this past off-season, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded veteran starter Joe Musgrove for a five piece prospect package. One of them was right-hander, and Pittsburgh born native David Bednar, who’s rookie campaign has been pretty decent so far. So let’s take a deeper dive into it.
Bednar has tossed 19 innings so far this season. He’s pitching to the tune of a 2.84 ERA, 3.07 FIP and .95 WHIP. Bednar’s getting strikeouts at an outstanding 35.1% rate while keeping walks to an even better 5.4% rate. Bednar showed this outstanding ability to strike out a ton of batters and keep walks to a minimum throughout the minors. He carried a 33% K-rate and 7.7% walk rate during his time in the San Diego Padres’ system.
The right-hander’s only weakness this year has been home runs. He currently has a 1.42 HR/9 rate. This is mainly because he’s given up line drives at a 25% rate while only having a 36.4% ground ball rate. Although he was never a huge ground ball pitcher throughout the minors, he usually sat around the 40%-45% range for ground balls. His 11.4% opponent barrel rate is a reflection of his struggles with the long ball.
Despite his struggles with the long ball, Bednar is still getting weak contact. His opponent’s 88.5 MPH exit velocity sits in the top 57th percentile. Meanwhile, his opponent’s 34.1% hard hit rate is in the top 77th percentile. He’s also in the top 90th percentile of both xwOBA (.258) and xERA (2.58). Bednar’s well above average in many other expected stat categories. His xSLG of .358 is in the top 73rd percentile. His .198 xBA is in the top 84th percentile.
Bednar’s big strikeout rate is because of his big swing and miss rate. He’s gotten batters to whiff at his offerings at a 36.1% rate. That currently is in the top 91st percentile. He even ranks ahead of the likes of Cy Young contenders Gerrit Cole, Clayton Kershaw, and even the player he was traded for, Joe Musgrove. His chase rate of 30.4% is in the 78th percentile.
All three of Bednar’s pitches are above average offerings. His splitter has the best run value at -2, and a -2.7 RV/100. It has the highest whiff rate, strikeout rate, batting average, slugging percentage, and wOBA against. His curveball is his next best offering with -1.4 RV/100. Finally, there’s his fastball which has a -.4 RV/100. Impressively, all of his pitches have a strikeout rate of at least 30%.
Overall, Bednar has some really impressive ERA estimators. Aside from his excellent xERA, he also has a 2.25 SIERA, 2.56 xFIP, and 3.74 DRA. He’s pretty much pitching to what he’s expected to be doing.
Bednar is also making the case to be one of the team’s lockdown late inning men of the future. When he pitches with runners in scoring position, he’s kept batters silent, holding them to a .125/.222/.125 line, and .175 wOBA. In high leverage situations, he has only given up 2 hits in 12 plate appearances while striking out 4.
Since David Bednar is still a rookie, the Pirates could be looking at their long term closer. If he can just cut down on the home runs, which isn’t impossible given his .4 HR/9 throughout the minor leagues, you’re looking at what could be one of the top relievers in baseball. Bednar’s success as a rookie so far this year has potentially cemented him as one of the team’s key players of the pitching staff moving forward.