Why is David Bednar struggling so much?

David Bednar is a two-time all-star closing pitcher, but what happened that has made him pitch so poorly in 2024?
San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates
San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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David Bednar made two straight All-Star games in 2022 and 2023 and received Rookie of the Year votes in 2021. The Pittsburgh Pirates closing pitcher had gained a strong reputation as one of the best closing pitchers in baseball. Last year, he was great, working to a 2.00 ERA, 2.53 FIP, and 1.10 WHIP. The Renegade had a 28.9% strikeout rate along with a quality 7.6% walk rate. While Bednar wasn’t a groundball pitcher, he still only allowed three home runs. It definitely helped that he was in the 72nd percentile of exit velocity and 87th percentile of barrel rate.

Obviously, after two All-Star appearances and a strong rookie season, Bednar had very high expectations set for him in 2024. But this year has been rough for the Renegade. Bednar has pitched 15 innings, allowing 15 earned runs. He allowed 15 earned runs last year but in 67 frames. While he still has 19 K’s and only five walks, he’s already given up three home runs. After being excellent at limiting hard contact last year, Bednar is below the 15th percentile in both exit velocity and barrel rate. 

At the start of the year, I was willing to chalk this up to his lat strain and missing most of Spring Training. But now we’re almost in mid-May. At this point, you have to start questioning if there is something seriously wrong. Has there been a mechanical change that hasn’t worked? Is the added movement the reason he’s struggled to hit his spots as consistently as last year? Maybe he is playing through an injury we don’t know about? Whatever the issue is, he hasn’t been nearly as consistent in locating compared to his first three years with the Pirates.

But what happened? How did Bednar go from an automatic shutout inning or two nearly every single time to someone who has struggled so much this year?