Pittsburgh Pirates: JT Brubaker Looks to Continue His Success


JT Brubaker will start for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night as he looks to continue his early season success.

So far the 2020 season has produced surprises for the Pittsburgh Pirates. This includes both good and bad surprises. But, thus far, one of the team’s biggest pleasant surprises has been pitcher JT Brubaker.

Brubaker had never pitched at the MLB level before 2020. However, this did not stop him from making the Opening Day roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It also has not stopped him from turning heads.

After two dominant bullpen outings, Brubaker joined the Pirates’ starting rotation. In that start, outside of one bad pitch which Miguel Sano launched for a three-run home run, Brubaker continued to impress.

In his three outings, one start, this season Brubaker owns a 3.38 ERA and a 4.01 FIP in 8 innings of work. The young righty has allowed just eight hits, he has walked three batters, hit a batter, and struck out nine. All three runs he has allowed came on the aforementioned Sano home run.

Digging deeper, Brubaker’s early season success does not look like a fluke. Opposing batters own an average exit velocity of 87.8 MPH off of Brubaker, and he has limited hard contact to a 31.8% rate. Both of these numbers are better than league average.

Brubaker’s whiff rate ranks in the 74th percentile of baseball, while his strikeout rate (25.7%) is in the 63rd percentile. His slider has been an absolute weapon, with opposing batters hitting .111 with a .222 slugging percentage off the pitch. The pitch has a spin rate of 2713, to go with a 38.9% whiff rate.

The success that Brubaker has found this season should not come as much of a surprise. He was the minor league pitcher of the year for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, after all. So, the expectations have long been high for Brubaker.

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It remains to be seen if Bruabker’s future will be in the starting rotation or the bullpen. However, it does appear that for the rest of the 2020 season he will be given an opportunity as a starting pitcher.