Falter comes out on top in first game against former team

April 13th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- After his last start against the Orioles on April 6, went home and began to unwind. He had just tossed his best start as a Pirate, going six scoreless frames to help his team win. Talking with his wife, she reminded him who was on deck.

“Just wanna let you know, don’t get too humble, you’ve got the Phillies next.”

“I’m like, ‘Well let’s ride, here we go,’” Falter said.

Falter ended up getting his revenge against the team that traded him a year ago, throwing five innings of one-run ball and getting the win in a 5-2 Pirates victory at Citizens Bank Park on Friday.

And very understandably, he wanted this one.

“It felt awesome,” Falter said. “Game was very personal to me, so I tried to do whatever it takes to not let those guys score, and we ended up having a pretty good game.”

Falter was originally drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2015 Draft and rose up to the Majors with them, being a part of the 2022 team that won the National League pennant. But he struggled in 2023, was optioned to the Minors and eventually dealt to the Pirates at the Trade Deadline for infielder Rodolfo Castro.

Moving across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gave Falter a chance at a fresh start, and he broke camp this spring in the starting rotation. While his first inning in his first start against the Marlins was a mess, allowing a grand slam before recording an out, he has been consistently attacking the zone and minimizing barrels since.

After the Marlins start, Falter and the pitching team got together to simplify the approach. It paid dividends against the Orioles, an American League team that will scarcely see him outside of Spring Training. He didn’t have that anonymity Friday.

“I know they’ve got a great lineup over there and I know they know me very well,” Falter said. “It was a little chess match with them.”

The match went to Falter, allowing just four baserunners on the evening. His only run allowed came in the fifth when he couldn’t throw out Bryson Stott after he bounced one off the plate for an infield single. Manager Derek Shelton pulled him before he went through the lineup for a third turn, but the combination of Jose Hernandez, Luis Ortiz, Josh Fleming and Aroldis Chapman got the ball to David Bednar in the ninth, and the Pirates’ closer tossed a 1-2-3 frame to seal the victory.

"I thought Bailey threw the ball well,” Bryce Harper said. “He had command of both sides of the plate, up and down as well. I thought he did his job and gave his team a chance to win."

Looking at Falter’s pitch chart, while he did work both sides of the plate, it was clear he wanted to attack his glove side more. Most of his four-seam fastballs landed on that third of the plate, which led to him using his curveball more to play off of that placement.

“I knew if I kept throwing it there, these guys would end up swinging at it and hopefully get some soft contact somewhere,” Falter said.

Talking pregame, Shelton stressed the importance of Falter being able to execute pitches throughout the strike zone, but it’s hard to argue how essential those glove-side pitches are.

"I think it's what kinda determines if he can use the other pitches,” Shelton said. “We saw it in the Baltimore start and we saw it today. And then he was able to use the curveball off it today, which is going to the other side of the plate, and even bringing it sometimes in against the right-handed hitters."

And hey, a little confidence after some success never hurts, especially after his rough start.

“I just kinda shied away from what got me here [in Miami],” Falter said. “Had to take a couple of steps back, talk about some things and so far so good. We’re just gonna try to keep that going.”

It’s no secret that Philadelphia fans can be very vocal towards pitchers as they exit the game, either cheering or booing. As Falter walked back to the dugout Friday, he was met with something he wasn’t accustomed to: silence.

“I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened, so I would like to keep that going for as long as I’m playing against them, that’s for sure,” he said.