By Jason Shetler
If you’re looking for players who have made an impact during the Pirates last three seasons of being a contender, one of them has certainly been Tony Watson. Since his first full season in the Pirates bullpen in 2012, Watson has been one of the best southpaw relievers in baseball. Let’s compare his last couple years, and what his projection will be for this season.
2014: 1.63 ERA, 222 ERA+, 2.69 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, 9.4 K/9 in 78 appearances
2015: 1.91 ERA, 202 ERA+, 2.84 FIP, 0.96 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 7.4 K/9 in 77 appearances
2016 (FanGraphs): 2.33 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 8.2 K/9 in 76 appearances
Watson has pitched at an elite level each of the past two seasons. Although his strikeout rate was down in 2015, his chase rate was excellent at 38.3% while got batters to swing and miss at an 11.6% rate, which is about his career average. FanGraphs projects another stellar year from Watson.
My analysis: While obviously the numbers have been impressive for Tony Watson, he’s also been a very clutch reliever over the last two years. Going by Win Probability Added, Watson was the seventh most clutch reliever in 2014 with a 3.07 WPA, and was fifth best in 2015 with a WPA of 4.13.