From Buccos to Baseball Stars

If you had told me two years ago that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series, I would have believed you. But if you had told me Charlie Morton would get the win in Game 7, I would not have believed you at all.

Morton is one of several pitchers that wasn’t great as a Pirate but found success later with other teams. Another is Francisco Liriano, who also pitched for the Astros in Game 7 and who used to be the Pirates’ ace. He won the 2013 NL Wild Card game, but by 2016 he had fallen apart. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays that July. As a reliever, not a starter, he ended up winning the AL Wild Card with the Jays.

The best part of that? Russell Martin, the Jays’ catcher, played for the Pirates in 2013. Liriano and Martin won two Wild Card games together with two different teams.

I used to joke that if you want to make a Pirates pitcher really good, you should just trade him to the Jays. J.A. Happ was a decent starter for the Bucs in 2015, but after he was traded, he was dynamite for the Jays and was actually one of the AL’s best pitchers in 2016. (That hot streak didn’t continue into 2017, though.)

Another one is closer Jason Grilli (above), who also pitched during the 2015 AL Wild Card game. I wasn’t bummed for very long after he got traded because his replacement was Mark Melancon. In 2016, Melancon was the only Pirate to make it to the All-Star Game (until Starling Marte filled in for an injured player). He had 47 saves that year and 51 the year before. Then he got traded to the Nationals and then to the Giants, and he’s not as good as he was anymore.

Every rule has its exception.

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