Osvaldo Bido joined the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this season after not being much of a prospect. Does he have a long-term future with the team?
The Pittsburgh Pirates pitching depth was stricken with injuries and underperformance earlier this season. Because of that, the Pirates called upon an unlikely name, that being Osvaldo Bido. Bido has had his struggles in the Majors, but he’s also shown some unexpected promise. But does he have a long-term role with the Pirates?
Bido owns a 5.35 ERA, 4.19 FIP, and 1.46 WHIP through 37 innings. The right-hander has a mediocre 19.7% strikeout rate but has held his own in the walks and home run department with an 8.1% walk rate and 0.73 HR/9.
Bido has also been roughly league average in contact rates, with an 88.3 MPH exit velo and 39.8% hard-hit rate. But he’s been outstanding at limiting quality contact, coming in the 88th percentile of barrel rate at 5.1%.
Those numbers aren’t all that impressive, and considering Bido is a 27-year-old who was viewed as a depth arm at the start of the season, what reason would there be to believe that he could become a long-term part of the pitching staff? The Pirates have more than enough top pitching prospects that will eventually surpass him on the depth chart too. How can Bido potentially stick around, despite his poor numbers, and relative lack of prospect status?
Admittedly, these are real criticisms, but there is one way Bido could find himself still pitching for the Pirates in 2024 and beyond. Bido has shown to be outstanding the first time he faces opponents. In the 19.1 innings through the first time through the opponent’s batting order, Bido owns an 0.93 ERA, 3.22 FIP, and 1.34 WHIP. His 22.8% strikeout rate still isn’t impressive, but his walk rate of just 7%, and has allowed just one home run. Batters manage just a .672 OPS and .301 wOBA when facing Bido for the first time (league averages in both OPS and wOBA are .733 and .318, respectively).
But after the first time Bido faces an opponent, they seem to catch onto what he’s throwing. In the 17.2 innings after the first time through the order, Bido has a 10.19 ERA, 5.25 FIP, and 1.58 WHIP. His 17.2% strikeout rate is a massive downgrade, as is his 9.2% walk rate. He’s also given up two home runs during this span. After holding opponents to an OPS well below .700 and wOBA right around .300, those numbers shoot up to .768 and .343. If you want to know what that difference looks like, it’s like going from Yasmani Grandal to Wilson Contreras.
What he could be to a potentially competitive Pirates team is Jeanmar Gomez. Gomez pitched 142.2 innings for the Pirates in 2013-2014 in 78 appearances (eight starts) and worked to a 3,28 ERA, 4.08 FIP, and 1.40 WHIP. Like Bido, Gomez had a quality walk rate (6.8%), and HR/9 rate (0.66), but struggled to get strikeouts (14.9%).
I know being compared to Gomez isn’t the most glamorous comp. But role players are still important players. Gomez still pitched 142.2 innings, mostly out of the bullpen for the Pirates, and he did it with an ERA under 3.50. Plus he made a couple of starts to help out the pitching staff. Sure, he wasn’t Mark Melancon or Tony Watson, but he performed a role, one that largely went underappreciated, and did well in said role.
Even if the Pirates have a team of five aces, there are going to be times where a guy struggles to get out of the third inning, there’s going to be other times where a guy needs to be pulled early in the game due to an injury, and other times where someone needs to come out of the bullpen to provide two or three innings because the rest of the bullpen is overtaxed and needs rest. This is a role Bido could potentially fill.
In my opinion, Bido does have a potential role on a long-term, and even competitive Pittsburgh Pirates team. Bido just needs to be put into a position in which he could succeed. He’s not a starter (at least outside of spot starter duty), but he’s shown that he can fool batters at least one time through the order. That’s more than enough to be a potential long reliever out of the bullpen.