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Since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chris Stratton has been a pleasant surprise out of the bullpen
There was a time when Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Chris Stratton was one of the best, if not the best, pitching prospect in the San Francisco Giants minor league system. After three inconsistent seasons with the Giants, Stratton was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on Anaheim in March of this year.
On May 7th, the Angels designated Stratton for assignment after he struggled to the tune of a 8.59 ERA, 6.20 FIP, 1.84 HR/9, a 12.5% walk rate, and 15.3% strikeout rate in 29 1/3 innings pitched. On May 11th, the Pirates swung a trade with the Angels after claiming him off waivers. Since joining the team, quietly, Stratton has been one of the team’s best relievers.
Stratton has logged 17 1/3 innings since joining the Pirates. He has posted a 3.12 ERA, 3.32 FIP, just two home runs, and a 15:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio (21.7% strikeout rate, 2.9% walk rate) since joining the club.
Most of the damage done against Stratton came in one inning. In the 8th inning of a blowout loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 15th, his second outing as a Pirate, Stratton took the hill in the 8th inning after having already pitched 3 innings. Stratton looked gassed, but was just trying to help get the Pirates to the end of a blowout loss while saving the bullpen.
In the bottom of the 8th inning that day Stratton allowed four of the six runs he’s surrender as a Pirate and both home runs. Outside of this one inning, Stratton has been fantastic with Pittsburgh.
A big reason for Stratton’s success has been the spin rate on his pitches. According to Baseball Savant, the spin rate on his fastball this season is in the 91st percentile. His curveball spin rate has been even better falling in the 99th percentile.
These two pitches have turned Stratton into a strong bullpen option for the Pirates. He also brings value to the Pirate ‘pen because he can pitch multiple inning outings in addition to your tradition 1 inning outings.
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Since joining the Pirates, Stratton’s ERA has dropped to 6.56 and his FIP to 5.13. If he continues to pitch the way he has, these numbers will continue to trend in the right direction. He will also continue to be a strong bullpen option for the Pirates.