Luis Ortiz is Finally Having Success in New Relief Role

Luis Ortiz has been very impressive out of the bullpen this season. Is this just a hot streak or is Ortiz going to be able to be successful out of the bullpen?
Apr 4, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Luis Ortiz
Apr 4, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Luis Ortiz / Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

During Spring Training, Luis Ortiz was battling for a rotation spot in Pittsburgh with multiple pitchers. He finished with a solid spring, but was given a spot in the bullpen. Since joining the bullpen, Ortiz has looked much better on the mound and has been a reliable pitcher for the Pirates to use in close games. The success from Ortiz is happening because of his control, which he did not have the previous year.

Last year, Ortiz pitched in 18 games with the Pirates. In those 18 games, Ortiz had a 5-5 record with an earned run average of 4.78 in 86.2 innings pitched and struck out 59 batters. He also had a 1.70 WHIP and a FIP of 5.57. Allowing too many baserunners was a problem for Ortiz. His walks per nine innings was 4.98 and his opponent batting average was .288.

To remain with the Pirates, Ortiz needed to make some changes in the offseason. After a strong spring, Ortiz was given a spot in the bullpen, and from there, he has been a solid reliever. In 12 appearances, Ortiz has a 2-2 record with a 3.20 earned run average in 19.2 innings pitched and has struck out 14 batters. He also has a solid WHIP of 1.12 and a FIP of 3.57. Ortiz has walked 10 batters this season, two of which were intentional, but he is also striking out more batters.

Ortiz throws a sinker and a four-seam fastball that are both around 95 miles per hour. His velocity has gone down since his rookie seasom, but he is throwing more effectively to get batters out, so it is working. His slider is also very effective as it has a 28.3 percent whiff rate and over a third of his strikeouts are off of it. Ortiz is still trying to effectively throw a changeup. He does not allow many hits with his changeup, but he has trouble controlling where it goes.

If Ortiz can continue to throw his pitches for strikes, he will continue to be an asset to the Pirates' pitching staff.

So far this season, he is proving that he has improved from last season and he can be a valuable piece to our bullpen. Keep watching Ortiz develop in the Pirates' bullpen this season.