Pittsburgh Pirates: Could Reliever Chris Stratton be Dealt?

Apr 14, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Chris Stratton (46) and catcher Michael Perez (R) celebrate on the field after defeating the San Diego Padres at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Chris Stratton (46) and catcher Michael Perez (R) celebrate on the field after defeating the San Diego Padres at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have some decisions to make over the next few months.  This includes what to do with some key veterans.

Over the last two seasons, one name that has come up in trade chatter has been Chris Stratton.  The 31-year-old pitcher is entering his second season of arbitration.  With the Pittsburgh Pirates selling off veterans over the better part of the last year, many thought Stratton would be too.

When the Pittsburgh Pirates brought in right-handed pitcher Chris Stratton there was optimism behind the move.  His numbers over his career were spotty, to say the least, but he also showed a lot of interesting peripherals.  The biggest thing that stood out about Stratton was his high spin rate on his pitches.  He had the stuff to be a solid pitcher but needed to figure out how to truly use his arsenal to make it work for him.

Last season, Stratton put together a solid campaign that saw him turn in a 3.63 ERA, 3.76 FIP, and 1.30 WHIP. Stratton carried a healthy 25.5% strikeout rate, as well as a 1.02 HR/9. Though walks weren’t his strongest suit. He gave up free passes at a 9.8% rate, which is still workable. Stratton was a workhorse for the Pirates. He pitched 79.1 innings out of the pen, the 5th most by any reliever who didn’t make any starts.

Stratton threw his trademark high-spin offerings. His four-seam fastball ranked in the top 98th percentile of fastball RPM with a 2610 mark. Stratton’s primary breaking pitch, a curveball, came in the top 98th percentile of curveball RPM with 3121. Both his slider and change-up also had well above average spin rates. The only stats he ranked below the 50th percentile in (average) on Baseball Savant was exit velocity (46th percentile, 89 MPH), walk rate, and fastball velocity (93 MPH).

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Overall Chris Stratton is a good reliever who could give you great work at times. Yes, he is going to struggle at times with inconsistencies, but that’s normal for a reliever of his status. He still is a reliable arm that can pitch in leverage situations or eat up a few middle innings if need be.  Trading Chris Stratton wouldn’t be a blockbuster move but he could have some sneaky value due to 2 years of relatively cheap control remaining.

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