Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl
Entering the Grapefruit League schedule, the battle for the final spot in the team’s starting rotation appeared to be a battle between Holland, Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl. With Archer out of the picture and Holland now locked into the rotation, that leaves one spot. Well, it appears, at least to start the season, both Brault and Kuhl will get an opportunity.
Prior to the coronavirus delaying the start of the season it appeared the team would ease Kuhl back into things following Tommy John Surgery and have him start the season in the bullpen or at the Triple-A level. Now, all signs point toward he and Brault piggybacking starts as the team’s 5th starting pitcher.
Kuhl has not pitched at the MLB level since 2018, but possesses some wicked stuff. While he has yet to find consistency at the MLB level, he possesses as fastball that can hit triple digits to go with a plus curveball and slider. If Kuhl is healthy and the new staff can un-tap his potential, he cna become a strong middle of the rotation arm.
As for Brault, at one point in 2019 he appeared to be turning a corner as a MLB starter. During a 15 game, 13 of which were starts, stretch from May 18 through September 1, Brault pitched to the tune of a 2.97 ERA and a 3.67 FIP in 78.2 innings of work. He allowed just four home runs, walked 9.5% of batters faced and posted a strikeout rate of 18.4%.
Despite this stretch, due to a disastrous start and finish to the season, Brault finished the 2019 season with a 5.16 ERA and a 4.76 FIP. He allowed home runs a 1.19 per 9 rate, walked 10.5% of batters faced and struck out 19.8% in 113.1 innings of work.
While Brault and Kuhl will start the season sharing starting duties, the Pirates’ hope is likely that Kuhl will take the bull by the horns. With his superior stuff, Kuhl has the much higher ceiling of the two pitchers.