Pittsburgh Pirates: Non-Roster Invitee Lefty Who Could Crack the Bullpen
A lefty added via minor league free agent contract could be in position to crack the Pirate Opening Day bullpen
No matter what happened this spring, the bullpen was going to be a question mark for the Pittsburgh Pirates when the regular season begins. These question marks only grew when lefty Jarlín García suffered a forearm injury that will cause him to miss the start of the regular season.
Added as a free agent this fall García was expected to be the top left-handed pitcher in the Pirate bullpen this season. In fact, he was set to be one of Derek Shleton's go to arms in high levergae situations this season. Now, at least to start the season, Shelton will be searching for answers, especially from the left-handed side, in his bullpen.
Right now, the only left-handed reliever on the Pirate 40-man roster is Jose Hernandez. While Hernandez has flashed great stuff and terrific potential this spring, he is a Rule 5 Draft addition. Entering the season with only one left-handed reliever is risky enough, the risky grows if that lone lefty reliever is a Rule 5 Draft addition.
Due to this, with García's injury the Pittsburgh Pirates will likely look to take one of the lefties who are in camp as a non-roster invitee north with them to Cincinnati for Opening Day. The reliever who could fill this role is Angel Perdomo.
Perdomo join the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent in December. This came after spending time in both the Brewer and Ray organizations last season. Between the two organizations Perdomo pitched 32 innings at the Triple-A level, striking out 53 batters while posting a 1.97 ERA.
During the 2020 and 2021 seasons Perdomo pitched out of the bullpen for the Brewers. In 19.2 career MLB innings pitched, Perdomo owns a 8.24 ERA, 6.43 FIP, 23.5% walk rate, and a 33.7% strikeout rate. Largely due to control issues, obviously, not the results he would have hoped for.
Despite his struggles, the stuff is there for Perdomo. Both his fastball and slider have the ability to be plus pitches. This duo was on display when he pitched a 1-2-3 inning while stirking out the side in his Grapefruit League appearance on Wednesday.
Perdomo has flashed this plus stuff this spring. However, again largely due to control issues, his results have been ugly. Prior to Wednesday's dominant outing, he had walked 3 batters and hit a batter in just 4.2 innings pitched. This played a large role in his 9+ ERA entering play on Wednesday.
With the Pirates searching for another left-handed bullpen option opportunity is knocking for Perdomo. If he can continue to flash plus stuff the rest of the spring, he will have a real shot at cracking the team's Opening Day bullpen.