In 2014 and 2015 combined, Pittsburgh’s Tony Watson pitched 152 2/3 innings in 155 games. He posted a 1.77 ERA, 2.77 FIP, and 3.08 DRA, allowing a homer to only one out of every 75 batters faced. Hitters compiled a .570 OPS against him.
Then, on July 30, 2016, the Pirates traded their closer, Mark Melancon—who would be a free agent at the end of the season—to the Nationals for Felipe Rivero. Up to that date, Melancon had a 2.66 ERA, with a .601 OPS against and a homer every 44 batters faced. In his absence, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle started calling for Watson an inning later, as the left-handed, eighth-inning setup man became the team’s closer.
Since then, Watson lost the closer job to Rivera and was traded to the Dodgers for two Single-A lottery tickets last season. He’s posted a 3.49 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .272/.328/.445 since Melancon was traded, giving up a homer every 26 plate appearances. Frame of reference: Last year the National League hit .254/.325/.423 with a homer every 32 plate appearances. Watson’s K/BB of 2.9, while better than average, is a far cry from his 2014-2015 mark of 4.5.