Forgotten Pittsburgh Pirates: Tom Gorzelanny


One of the many starting pitchers from the Pittsburgh Pirates during the late-2000s was Tom Gorzelanny, who’s tenure has fallen into more forgotten history.

In the mid-to-late 2000s, the Pittsburgh Pirates had many pitchers who became forgotten players in their history. Maybe they were underrated, or maybe they just weren’t all that great. The ladder is the case with former left-handed Pirates’ starter Tom Gozelanny.

Gorzelanny was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round of the 2003 MLB Draft. After a decent showing at Double-A in 2005 where he had a 3.26 ERA and 2.91 FIP, Gorzelanny appeared on the one and only top 100 prospect list of his career, ranking as the 95th best prospect by Baseball America going into 2006.

The southpaw got off to a hot start at Triple-A and was eventually given a regular role as a starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006. In 61.2 innings of work, Gorzelanny put up solid numbers for a 23-year-old, but nothing to write home about. He had a 3.79 ERA, 4.18 FIP and 1.31 WHIP. Gorzelanny struggled with control, walking 11.6% of the batters he faced, and struck out only 15%. Although, he did limit home runs to a 0.4 HR/9 rate. SIERA pinned him at a worryingly high 5.14.

Gorzelanny’s best season was in 2007. It was the only season he would serve as a starter in a full year. In 201.2 innings, the 2nd round pick allowed an ERA of 3.88, a 4.24 FIP and 1.39 WHIP. Walks became less of an issue, owning a 7.8% walk rate to go against a strikeout rate of only 15.4%. Again, ERA predictors did not place him as a good pitcher. Although his SIERA was lower, he clocked in at 4.67, and 4.68 xFIP.

Tom would pitch only 105.1 innings in 2008 because he struggled just in general. He walked less batters than he faced, and surrendered 20 home runs enroute to a 6.66 ERA. After only pitching 8.2 innings in 2009 where he gave up 5 earned runs, Gozelanny was traded to the Chicago Cubs with John Grabow for pitchers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio, as well as a prospect by the name of Josh Harrison. Helping the Pittsburgh Pirates acquire Harrison is the biggest contribution Gorzelanny made to the Bucs.

For the rest of 2009, Gorzelanny pitched 38.1 more innings, but didn’t do any better. With the Cubs, Gorzelanny allowed 24 more earned runs. He struck out 40 batters, and walked 13, so he showed some improvement with that, but he still gave up 6 home runs.

But after 2009, Gorzelanny would become a pretty solid swingman kind of pitcher for the Cubs, and another division rival, the Milwaukee Brewers. Through the next five seasons of his career, the former Pirate put up a 3.67 ERA, 3.95 FIP and 1.36 WHIP in 419 games.

He may have appeared in 170 games but he worked as a starter in just 49 of them. He also had a solid 3.87 SIERA and 4.06 xFIP. After never being a big strikeout pitcher, Gorzelanny got his strikeout rate above 20% at 21.1%, and walked less than 10% of the batters he faced (9.4%). He also allowed home runs at a 0.9 HR/9 rate.

Gorzelanny then signed on with the Detroit Tigers, where he only pitched 39.1 innings and allowed 26 earned runs on 23 walks and 36 strikeouts. Gorzelanny played his last game in 2017 with the Cleveland Indians. During that season, he pitched only 3 innings, allowed 7 earned runs, walked 5 batters and allowed a home run.

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Gorzelanny wasn’t ever that flashy of a pitcher, but he wasn’t awful. He put up overall league average numbers in his career. During his solid stretch from 2010 to 2014, he played a large role with the Brewers and Cubs.