The Pittsburgh Pirates added a quality relief pitcher in a trade last offseason. Now, this reliever has a chance to take over the bullpen.
The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired David Bednar along with others from the San Diego Padres last offseason. The Bucs sent rising veteran started Joe Musgrove for a solid package of prospects. Bednar was the lone Big-League-ready player as he made a short debut with the Padres in 2020. He found himself in the bullpen and slowly worked his way into high-leverage roles.
Bednar had an impressive rookie campaign. In 60.2 innings, the Pittsburgh native pitched to the tune of a 2.23 ERA, 2.69 FIP, and .973 WHIP. Bednar also had a great 32.5% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate. He only allowed 5 homers for a .74 HR/9. Although he had a sub-par ground ball rate of just 41.4%, he made up for it by being great at limiting hard contact. Furthermore with a strikeout rate like that one can expect the groundball rate to be lower.
He was in the top 82nd percentile of exit velocity and top 92nd percentile of hard-hit rate. Not only were his surface numbers great, but the underlying numbers also painted a fantastic picture. Bednar was in the 93rd or better percentile in all of Baseball Savant’s expected stats. He also had a 3.19 xFIP, 2.92 SIERA, and 3.38 DRA.
Bednar quickly established himself as the Pittsburgh Pirates most dominant bullpen arm. After the Bucs traded Richard Rodriguez, both Chris Stratton and David Bednar were given opportunities to collect some saves. Bednar locked down 3 saves and 13 holds. Put it all together and Bednar would receive 8th place in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, not bad considering he is just a reliever.
David Bednar should be the Pittsburgh Pirates closer to start the season. Chris Stratton, who is a reliable veteran, should be used in a role that he was used in before, which was the fireman. Stratton would often come into games and get out of jams all the while having the ability to provide effective relief work over multiple innings. Now, if the Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to build up Stratton’s value as much as possible, then that would likely be the only reason why the team would make him the closer.