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New Rays reliever Daniel Hudson looks to rebound

Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Rays have had a longstanding interest in righty reliever Daniel Hudson and today they got their man. Acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of the Corey Dickerson trade, Hudson is due $5.5MM in 2018.

Last year, Hudson’s first in Pittsburgh, he struggled with a 4.38 ERA and 4.34 FIP. His 24.4% strikeout rate was just under his career high of 24.5% set in 2015. The walk rate ballooned to 12.2%. In contrast, in 2015-16 after transitioning to the bullpen he had walk rates of 8.2% and 8.6%.

Since going to the bullpen full time in 2015 Hudson has thrown 189.2 innings with a 4.46 ERA and 3.87 FIP. He’s posted a strong 23.5% strikeout rate with a below average 9.7% walk rate. Hudson spent a lot of the time in a very hitter friendly environment in Arizona but survived, then struggled upon joining Pittsburgh’s ‘pen.

I find it hard to believe that Hudson won’t be on the opening day roster at this point. Veterans, even if they struggle, will typically be given at least a few weeks to get things right before they are dropped. Think of Heath Bell or Grant Balfour 2.0.

Hudson throws a 95-97 mph fastball (55%), 86-88 mph slider (25%), and 85-87 mph change up (25%). He posted a strong 10.17% whiff rate on the fastball in 2017.

What stood out last season was the slider. Last year batters hit for a .114 BA and .043 ISO against it, and his 18.25% whiff rate on the slider was his highest since 2012.

Meanwhile, his change up dropped to a 13.61% whiff rate when he’s typically posted 20% on that pitch.

For Hudson to get back on track he needs to clear up the control some and find his change up. If there’s anybody who can help him find his change up it’s the Rays.