With the Pittsburgh Pirates looking to add to their Major League roster ahead of Wednesday’s looming CBA expire and lockout, reliever Nick Wittgren could be a free agent target
One of the biggest needs for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason is to add bullpen help. While the team has address the starting rotation with the addition of José Quintana, as well as the lineup by re-signing Yoshi Tsutsugo the bullpen has yet to be touched.
One reliever that is available on the free agent market and could be a match fit with the Pittsburgh Pirates is righty Nick Wittgren. Wittgren spent the first three seasons of his career with the Miami Marlins and the last three pitching in Cleveland. With him looking for a new home, the Pirates could be a fit.
Wittgren is coming off a down season in which he posted a 5.05 ERA and a 4.84 FIP in 62.1 innings pitched. In these 62.1 innings pitched Wittgren walked 6.6% of batters faced and struck out 23.6%, both of which are strong results. His issue was the home run ball as he allowed 13 home runs which comes out to a concerning 1.88 HR/9. rate.
During his MLB career Wittgren has pitched 271.1 innings in 258 appearances with 257 of these appearances being as a reliever. Wittgren’s career walk rate is 6.7% to go with a 23.5% striekout rate. His 1.29 HR/9 rate, while still a tick higher than you would like to see, is better than his 1.88 HR/9 from 2021.
Wittgren has limited opposing batters to a 40.9% hard-hit rate during his MLB career. He has induced ground balls at a 40% rate, while allowing fly balls at a 37.5%, which is part of the reason to believe why his home run issues will improve in 2021.
With the Pirates Wittgren could pitch out of multiple roles in the bullpen. He could pitch in high-leverage situations in the late innings along with David Bednar and Chris Stratton. Wittgren could also be a strong middle reliever for the Pirates. Regardless of his role, he would improve the Pirates bullpen in 2022.