By Jason Shetler
There have been plenty of great Pirates hitters that have made names for themselves as Hall of Famers. They’ve had outstanding starting pitchers, although none in the Hall of Fame. There’s also been a fair share of good relievers. But throughout the long storied history of the Pirates, there hadn’t been a dominant left-handed reliever, that is until Tony Watson.
Watson was called up by the Pirates in June of 2011, and had himself a decent rookie season, as he posted a 3.95 ERA in 43 appearances. In his first full season in 2012, he had a 3.38 ERA along with a 1.13 WHIP in 68 appearances. The dominance for Watson began in 2013 when he made 67 appearances while posting a 2.39 ERA with an 0.88 WHIP. Watson made history in 2014 by becoming the first Pirates left-handed reliever to be named an All-Star. During that All-Star season, he appeared in 78 games, which were most in the National League, and posted an ERA of 1.63 with a 1.02 WHIP. 2015 has been more of the same, as he’s put up a 2.24 ERA and a WHIP of 0.93 in 57 appearances.
While it’s generally difficult for relievers to put up consistent numbers year to year, Tony Watson has not only been able to sustain good success, but has also gotten better and better. Watson is undoubtedly the greatest left-handed reliever in Pirates history, as well as one of the best lefty bullpen arms in all of baseball.