As we approach closer and closer to the first game of the year, some players are making a push for a roster spot. Currently, Pittsubrgh Pirates prospect JT Brubaker is trying to earn a 30-man roster spot.
One of the many more interesting pitchers the Pittsburgh Pirates have on their 60-man roster is right-handed starting pitching prospect JT Brubaker. Sunday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Tweeted out that Brubaker is making a serious push for a 30-man roster spot.
This shouldn’t be that big of a surprise to anyone. For one, the Pittsburgh Pirates need all the pitching depth they can get on the roster. Currently, the only real locks are Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams and Mitch Keller. Since the cancellation of Spring Training back in March, the team has lost Chris Archer to injury, but Archer was primed to play a large role in the rotation.
Currently, the Pirates have Derek Holland penciled in as the 4th starter after he got off to a hot start back in March. For the 5th spot, the Pirates currently plan on using both Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault in a sort of piggybacking option. In that scenario, Kuhl would start the first 3 or 4 innings while Brault would pitch the next 3 or 4 innings out of the ‘pen, or vice versa. Kind of like a partial opener.
However, in a season like this, nothing is really set in stone. Plus having a reliable option on the roster with the uncertainty of who could be the next player to go down with COVID-19 is something you need in this season.
Brubaker has also been great at Triple-A. In 2018, Brubaker flourished in the 119 innings at Indianapolis. Brubaker carried a solid 3.10 ERA, 3.59 FIP, and 1.31 WHIP. Brubaker only allowed seven home runs and 36 free passes, resulting in a 0.5 HR/9 and 7.2% walk rate. Brubaker didn’t strikeout that many batters though with a 7.2 K/9 rate and 19.6% strikeout rate.
Brubaker probably would have made the Majors in 2019 had it not been for an injury bug that seemed to plague the Pirates’ organization as a whole. Brubaker got off to a fantastic start to the season. In the first 21 innings of the season, Brubaker only allowed six earned runs on 19 hits, just four walks, and two home runs, with both of those long balls coming in his final start before going on to miss most of the season. Brubaker did strikeout 20 batters though. He did return in late June, but only pitched 6.2 innings at the Low-A level in two rehab starts. But Brubaker wouldn’t return to Triple-A for the rest of the season.
Brubaker works with four pitches. Out of the four, his fastball is his best as it has been given a 60 current and future grade by FanGraphs. His curveball is also a plus pitch as it comes in with a future 55 grade. His slider is overall an average pitch at 50 current/future, but, still, three different average or better pitches is pretty good. He also has a change up that only has a future 45 grade, but it’s not one of his primary pitches.
If Brubaker can make the 30-man roster, he’ll likely serve as a swing-type role, pitching multiple innings out of the bullpen, and being the first guy to be given the starting nod if someone gets placed in the injured list. Though he might never be a staff ace, this is the year Brubaker can show he can be a very productive pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Swing man type pitchers are always valuable, and Brubaker could be a Ross Stripling or Yusmeiro Petit type pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates.