31 days until the Pittsburgh Pirates have their first spring workout

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: A.J. Schugel /

Spring Training is yet another day closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates are officially in the post-Gerrit Cole Era. Take a deep breath everyone, everything will be okay. Promise.

As we move into the post-Cole Era, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now just 31 days away from their first workout of Spring Training at Pirate City. Number 31 for the Pirates is one of their most underappreciated players – reliever A.J. Schugel.

The past two seasons A.J. Schugel has been an overlooked and undervalued member of the Pirate bullpen. In 84 innings pitched the past two seasons Schugel has allowed 72 hits, seven home runs, he has averaged 3.10 BB/9, 7.55 K/9, and he posted a 48.6 percent groundball rate.

All of this led to Schugel owning a 3.19 ERA, a 3.79 FIP, and a fWAR of 0.7 the past two seasons. Through his work in 2016 and 2017, Schugel has solidified himself as a core member of the Pirate bullpen heading into the 2018 season. Despite being up and down between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis throughout the course of the past two seasons, Clint Hurdle‘s trust in Schugel increased as 2017 went on leading to him being used in more high-leverage situations. This is why Schugel’s spot should be solidified moving forward.

The key to Schugel’s success has been his changeup. The past two seasons his changeup has been one of the best pitches in all of baseball. That is something that you can read more about here. This changeup is a huge reason why left-handed hitters have been held to just a .283 wOBA by Schugel during his Major Leauge career.

Next: A farewell and thank you to Gerrit Cole

In 31 days pitchers and catchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates will report to the fields of Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida, to have their first workout of Spring Training 2018. One of the players that will be at this workout is relief pitcher number 31 A.J. Schugel.