Free-agent lefty Antonio Bastardo has received a 140-game suspension, per a league announcement. He tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug stanozolol.
Stanozolol (better known by its popular name, Winstrol) is one of very few anabolic steroids that’s actually been deemed safe for consumption by the FDA; Stanozolol possesses the rare quality of being able to survive both the digestive system and the liver, meaning it can be taken orally (as opposed to intravenously) and still deliver the desired effects. Because of that, it can be legally sold and as such is easy to obtain. Stanozolol is known for its use in competitive body building, occasionally being used in the offseason for building definition (as opposed to enormous muscle growth).
Of course, being legal for sale and consumption doesn’t equate to being sanctioned for use in Major League Baseball, so Bastardo will receive the second PED-related suspension of his career. Five years ago, Bastardo was slapped with a 50-game ban for his involvement in the infamous Biogenesis clinic. As a result, his second suspension is (obviously) much more severe and has the potential to end the lefthander’s career.
Bastardo’s best known for his time spent with the Philadelphia Phillies, in whose system he spent upwards of ten seasons. Bastardo pitched for Philadelphia at the MLB level for parts every season from 2009-2015. The left-hander also tossed innings for the Mets and Pirates, and was certainly known for being effectively wild. His career ERA to date sits just above 4.00, and he managed to strike out 10.76 batters per nine innings while walking a whopping 4.40. During his career, Bastardo has largely served as living proof that even the most extreme fly ball pitchers can carve out a role for themselves at the MLB level. His 28.6% career ground ball rate ranks as the 10th-lowest all time among qualified pitchers ever since the stat first began to be measured.
Bastardo’s career took a turn for the worse at the beginning of the 2017 season, when he made just nine appearances for the Pirates before hitting the disabled list with a left quad strain. Those nine appearances were absolutely catastrophic; the right-hander issued a walk per inning across those nine innings while allowing five homers and giving up 15 earned runs on the whole. After spending two months on the DL, the Pirates elected to designate the veteran for assignment, closing the books on the two-year, $12MM contract he signed with the Mets prior to 2016. He hasn’t pitched at the MLB level since.
The Diamondbacks too a chance on Bastardo at the beginning of 2018, adding him to a large pool of veterans they signed to minors deals prior to spring training. Though he did manage to strike out nine hitters in just 5 2/3 innings (against only one walk), Arizona prioritized other pitchers ahead of him and granted him his release on March 20th. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, it still seemed possible that the veteran’s track record and decent spring performance would afford him an opportunity elsewhere.
That never ended up coming to fruition, and now Bastardo will have to sit out 140 MLB games before even getting a chance to set foot on a major league mound again. His removal from the 2018 pool leaves Eric O’Flaherty as the lone major league free agent lefty on the market.