Giving Credit That Is Due To Pittsburgh Pirates Pitcher Steven Brault

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 1, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 1, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Giving credit that is due to a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher that may be turning a corner

Last night, my father-in-law asked me a very simple question – “when are you guys going to start giving some credit to Steven Brault?” He said it with a chuckle as anyone who reads the site regularly knows we have been very critical of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher.

This season, however, Brault appears to be a pitcher that has turned a corner. Overall this season he owns a 3.88 ERA and a 4.25 FIP, both of which are career bests, in 95 innings of work. His 95 innings have come in 21 games, 15 of which have been starts.

Early in the season Brault found himself struggling. Through his first seven outings this season, two of which were starts, Brault owned a 8.24 ERA and a 6.78 FIP. At this point, Brault looked like a pitcher that might be on his way out of Pittsburgh.

Starting with his 5 1/3 inning relief outing on May 24th against the Dodgers, Brault has been a completely different pitcher. Brault needed to be better and, to his credit, he has been.

In his last 13 games, 12 of them starts, Brault owns a 2.75 ERA, 3.59 FIP, a 8.8% walk rate, 18.8% strikeout rate, and he’s allowed just four home runs in 75 1/3 innings pitched. He has also done a good job taking the sting out of opposing bats inducing soft or medium contact at a 64.7% rate.

Arguably Brault’s most impressive outing yet came in his most recent start this past Sunday. Pitching at the most hitter friendly park in all of baseball – Coors Field – Brault limited the high powered Rockie offense to just 1 earned run on four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings of work. Additionally, Brault hit his first career home run in this game raising his slash line on the season to .303/.324/.424. Mix in playing Gold Glove caliber defense on the mound and Brault has done it all this season.

The craziest part of Brault’s success has been his ability to do it despite leaning on his fastball. After throwing 69 straight fastballs to start his outing against the Rockies on Sunday, he is now using his fastball 73.1% of the time this season. In the era of spin rates and breaking balls, Brault is finding success the old fashioned way of leaning on his fastball.

Another impressive part of Brault’s success story has been his ability to not allow an injured list stint to negatively impact his season. This is not uncommon for pitchers, but that has not been the case for Brault. Had he not been on the IL from July 6th through August 6th, his numbers this season could be even more impressive.

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Brault’s improvement has come at the best possible time for him. The Pirate starting rotation has struggled throughout the season which created an opportunity that Brault has seized. Barring a disastrous month of September, Brault should have a spot locked up in the Pirate starting rotation entering the 2020 season.

Kudos to you, Mr. Brault.

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