Almost every move Ben Cherington made when moving veterans off the club was solely in exchange for very young, very talented prospect capital. So when the Pirates presented the deal they finalized with San Diego and the New York Mets somehow the ready for MLB David Bednar almost seemed like a toss in.
Then we started looking into the players deeper and most stopped at “local kid” as the interesting part of Bednar’s story. After all, he only had 17 MLB games under his belt spread out over 2019-2020 and his stats weren’t eye popping.
We looked into his peripherals and the best way to describe him was quite possibly, a guy with a live arm, who struggled to control it. He could help one day, and he has enough team control that he has time to figure it out. In fact, I’m down on Kyle Crick right now, but that’s who he reminded me of, because Mr. Crick had all the same issues. Live arm, couldn’t control it. Unfortunately, that is no longer Kyle’s plight.
Then we got to see him pitch this Spring and man, it’s tough not to be impressed.
Here’s a guy hitting 97-98 with the four seam fastball, dropping curveballs on the corner and mystifying batters with his splitfinger.
He’s faced all of 6 hitters this Spring and not one has looked like he had any semblance of balance at the plate. These weren’t AA players either, I mean anything you want to toss out there to speak to this being no big deal, is probably not invalid. We’re talking two Spring games after all.
What I do think we can take from this early performance is that David Bednar isn’t just someone who pitched at Mars High School and his acquisition wasn’t some PR stunt. This is a guy who has tools and the ability to really be an impact arm in this bullpen for years to come.
So what, they’ll still lose 110 games, I’m sure some of you are saying. Well, maybe. But nothing makes a team look more professional than pitching. The more quality you can put on the hill, the more likely you are to keep games tight. It might not change the overall record, but losing 8-1 vs 5-3 can somehow make you feel things are moving in the right direction.
Just last year this team led the league in 1-run losses. Probably more of a statistical anomaly than an indication that they were close, but when on any given night the Pirates had 1 or 2 arms they felt secure sending out in leverage situations, it’s pretty easy to envision how having another in the mix could really help and the Pirates Bullpen could just wind up being a strength this year.
As of right now, they don’t have anyone who jumps off the page and screams “closer” but what Bednar brings to the table certainly fits the mold of back end.
Most of these moves have been for the future, but it’s nice to see some of them could help both.
For more on Bednar’s background here’s a great piece from MLB.com about him and his family.