Steven Brault’s Second Start
Steven Brault made his second career start against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was rather an intriguing start, mainly in part due to the results not really mirroring the effectiveness.
In his major league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 5th, Steven Brault went only four innings allowing two runs, one earned, while striking out five batters and walking two. His problem was mainly efficiency, as he threw 82 pitches in just four innings, a rate of 20.5 pitches per inning. He averaged 4.56 pitches per plate appearance, facing 18 batters, which is 4.5 batters per inning. His first pitch strike rate was 55.6 percent. He flashed some stuff that was good looking forward, but he really needed to become more efficient.
In start number two, Brault once again was not very efficient, save for the fifth inning. He threw 106 pitches, and only threw 58 strikes, a percentage of 54.7 percent, a decrease from his first time. That doesn’t paint the whole picture, however. Through his first four innings, Brault threw 78 pitches, and only 38 for strikes. A rate of 47.7 percent will not get it done most often, especially over the first four innings. Once again he was not throwing strikes at a high rate, despite just walking five batters in ten innings, he has thrown strikes 58 percent of the time – he was at 62.2 percent after start one. Even Francisco Liriano, who has walked a Major League high 66 and also has a major league high 13.2 percent walk rate. More strikes from Brault should not be too far out of the reach, as he has thrown 64.7 percent this year in the minors and 67 percent in his three Triple-A starts between his two Major League outings.
Another problem with Brault was getting ahead in the count. Of the 27 batters that he faced, he threw a first pitch strike 12 times, or 44.4 percent of the time. Those strikes include a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice bunt attempt that went foul. At one point he threw nine balls and no strikes to Keon Broxton, who entered the day hitting .135/.256/.203 with a 44.2 percent strikeout rate, and he possessed a 27 wRC+. Eight of his first pitch strikes came on the fourseam fastball, one being a hit, another a bunt, and a third one being a fouled off bunt. The other four came on sliders, two of them swinging. To be more efficient in future starts, he needs to get ahead of hitters more than did in his second start.
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Brault mainly relied on his fourseam and slider, throwing the changeup only four times, and all four went for balls. His fastball was sitting at 92.25 miles per hour while his slider was at 83.63 miles per hour. For the most part, the slider was effective, but two doubles and a home run did come off this pitch. The home run, by Chris Carter in the first inning, was after Brault was ahead in the count 0-2. He threw two consecutive balls with his fastball, had his slider fouled off, and then another ball by his fastball. After paying attention to the runner on second for too often than you’d like with two outs, Brault threw a 84.9 mile per hour slider down and in to Carter, which then proceeded to be hit 105 miles per hour and went 423 feet.
There were some good things to take out of this start, despite the lack of efficiency. For one, as long as he throws strikes, he is fine. Another is that runners on base all game don’t shake his confidence, and even without locating he is still able to toss six innings and allow three earned. Getting better control and locating his pitches in his future starts would be a plus. Brault can pitch at the big league level even with not his best command. Going forward, Brault should only get better.
*Pitch data tracked using MLB Gameday