Starting pitching can be an expensive target in free agency, especially this offseason. The Pittsburgh Pirates may have to sign a starting pitcher if A.J. Burnett chooses to retire, and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review hears that the Bucs have checked in on free agent Bronson Arroyo.
To describe Arroyo, the best phrase would be incredibly average. He fits great into a rotation as a fourth or fifth starter — he would be the fifth starter for the Pirates, behind Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Wandy Rodriguez. His career 4.19 ERA isn’t terrible, but it’s extremely average. He doesn’t strike many batters out (career 5.8 K/9), and he gives up more than his fair share of home runs (1.2 HR/9 for his career).
In 2013, Arroyo went 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA. Much like the rest of his career, Arroyo ate up a ton of innings last season, with 202 innings pitched; he averages 208 innings per season. Last season, Arroyo had a 5.5 K/9 and just 1.5 BB/9.
The issue with signing Arroyo, along with the possibility that he will ask for a contract that the Pirates won’t give him, is that he is an extreme fly ball pitcher. In 2013, Arroyo got ground balls just 44.4 percent of the time. For his career, he gets even fewer ground balls, with a ground ball just 40.6 percent of the time.
It is somewhat surprising that Arroyo has done such a good job while pitching for Cincinnati Reds. The Reds’ stadium, Great American Ballpark, is known for being a launching pad for home runs. Right-handed fly ball pitchers don’t tend to do well at PNC Park where the Pirates play, but if Arroyo can perform well in Cincinnati, he can do it anywhere.