I’ve spent a lot of time this season focusing on big picture things, like how the team is playing and what that means long-term. I’ve particularly been focused quite a bit on Pedro Alvarez, because Pedro Alvarez is maybe the singular most important person to the Pirates success now and in the immediate future and because I don’t understand him at all. As a result, I’ve missed talking about some of the smaller things. That’s too bad because it’s those smaller things that have come together to have quite a bit to do with the Pirates still being three games over .500 here in late June, in the thick of contention despite not playing terribly good baseball for most of 2012.
Let’s start with some Jason Grilli appreciation today. Here are Jason Grilli’s career statistics before he joined the Pirates late last summer:
Over ten years, he pitched for five teams. He struggled as a starter and he really only had success as a reliever in two seasons. Even in those two seasons, nothing stood out as particularly fantastic.
Now here’s Grilli with the Pirates:
He did work as solid as any other year of his career last year, and he’s been flat-out dominant and unhittable this year. He’s struck out 40% of all of the hitters he’s faced this year, which puts him in a class with the league’s best strikeout relievers like Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen. He’s not really doing anything different this year than in the past, except throwing that he’s throwing his fastball a little harder and a little more often than in recent years. Somehow, that’s translated into him just blowing the doors off most of the time he’s on the mound. It’s been a ton of fun to watch.