View Full Version : Kovacevic: Call him the Pirates' 'glue'

09-14-2013, 11:55 PM
Tony Watson isn't the Pirates' best player. That distinction goes, without a trace of a doubt, to Andrew McCutchen, who was my choice for National League MVP a month ago and has only soared since then.

Watson isn't the Pirates' best pitcher, either. That's been the oft-overwhelming Francisco Liriano.

He isn't even their best reliever. That's been the brilliant Mark Melancon.

So how to explain this assessment from the closer himself?

“Without Tony, we wouldn't be in the position we are,” Melancon was telling me this weekend. “I believe that 100 percent. He's been a huge factor.”

Melancon's got company …

Third base coach Nick Leyva: “Two words for Tony Watson: Unsung hero.”

Pitching coach Ray Searage: “I can't begin to describe for you what Tony's done for us as a staff. He's been the glue.”

Cutch: “He's meant so much to us. One inning, two innings, lefty, righty … need an extra inning? He's the guy. Really, he's been that guy for us.”

Fellow reliever and daily throwing partner Bryan Morris: “Early in the year, Tony had that stretch where outcome wasn't as good as how he was pitching. And now … it's been lights out for a while, huh?”

Yeah, to say the least.

These are the numbers everyone sees: Including his 1-2-3, seven-pitch inning Saturday night in the 2-1 edging of the Cubs, Watson, the 28-year-old lefty in his second full season in the majors, has a 2.48 ERA in 63 appearances spanning 69 innings. Opponents are batting .201 with five home runs. He has 53 strikeouts against just 12 walks.

All impressive, but nowhere near the full story:

• Watson's 0.91 WHIP — walks and hits per innings pitched, a vital stat for relievers — ranks seventh in the National League among pitchers with 60-plus appearances. For perspective, Melancon is a hair ahead of him at 0.90.

• Watson has a 1.00 ERA and both of his saves in the eight times he's gone multiple innings.

• I love this one: Watson has inherited 25 baserunners from other relievers and allowed only six to score.

Those are all for the full season, but the greatest value Watson's brought — especially in the context of a team that's largely leveled off since the All-Star break — is that he's only gotten stronger: He's made 17 consecutive scoreless appearances. He's been charged with a run just three times in his past 38 appearances. He's allowed just 17 hits in 86 at-bats since the break, just one for extra bases.

Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/4690200-74/watson-tony-pitching#ixzz2evyOxnlg
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter (http://ec.tynt.com/b/rw?id=d-D-nM8emr4ALpacwqm_6l&u=triblive) | triblive on Facebook (http://ec.tynt.com/b/rf?id=d-D-nM8emr4ALpacwqm_6l&u=triblive)