A rehabbing Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher is one step closer to rejoining the team
Injuries have riddled the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff this season. One of the pitchers that has hit the injured list is lefty Steven Brault. This is a loss that has proved to be a bigger than anyone could have ever anticipated.
Prior to the 2019 season, Brault always struggled with the Pirates. Especially with his control. this season, however, Brault was starting to turn a corner before getting injured.
In 15 games this season, 9 of which were starts, Brault owns a 4.15 ERA and a 4.54 FIP in 60 2/3 innings pitched. While his 19.4% strikeout rate is down slightly from last year’s 19.9% rate, his 11.7% walk rate has improved by over 2%. His 0.89 HR/9 is also an improvement over last season.
Brault’s numbers, while nothing special, do not tell the full story on him. Because, after a slow start to the season he looked like a pitcher turning the corner in his final 9 outings before hitting the IL.
In these 9 outings, 7 of which were starts, Brault posted a 2.44 ERA and a 3.63 FIP in 44 1/3 innings pitched. He allowed just one home run, his walk rate was 11.8%, and his strikeout rate was 18%. Also during this stretch he owned a 47% ground ball rate, he was inducing soft contact at a 21% clip, and opposing batters were hitting just .247 against him.
This strong stretch of work came to an end on July 5th when he exited a start against the Milwaukee Brewers with shoulder pain. Before he left the game, Brault had held the Brew Crew to just a single run on three hits, two walks, and four strikeouts in 4 innings of work.
Over the weekend in New York Brault pitched in a simulated game. This came after a bullpen session earlier in the week. On Thursday night, he returned to the mound.
In a rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis Brault allowed 2 runs in 4 innings of work. In his 4 innings the lefty allowed three hits, he struck out a pair, and he threw 76 pitches. However, he walked five batters and just 41 of his 76 pitches were for strikes.
While you do not want to see the control issues from Brault, it’s not a huge red flag either. Brault has always struggled with control, with a big reason being a problem with trying to repeat his delivery. Considering Brault was likely rust after nearly a month off from game action, it’s not a huge surprise to see him battle some control issues.
What was most important is Brault returned to the mound and he threw 76 pitches. With this, he could be ready to return the Pirate rotation as soon as during their series with the Milwaukee Brewers this upcoming week.