Pittsburgh Pirates: Breaking Down Nick Tropeano’s Success


In four games pitched with the Pittsburgh Pirates righty Nick Tropeano has found a lot of success. Let’s examine what has driven this success.

On August 11th, the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed right-handed pitcher Nick Tropeano off waivers from the New York Yabkees. This came after Tropeano never pitched a game for the Bronx Bombers.

As a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Tropeano has logged 10.2 innings of work in foru games pitched. In these 10.2 innings of work, Tropeano has allowed nine hits, a home run, he’s walked three, and struck out 12. All of this has led to him posting a 0.84 ERA.

Tropeano has found a lot of success with the Pittsburgh Pirates. So, what has driven that success? Well, that is what we will get into today.

In his four outings with the Pirates, Tropeano’s pitch usage has overgone a huge change. Tropeano’s most used pitched in 2019 was his four-seamed fastball, throwing the pitch 40.7% of the time. In 2020, this number has dropped to 27.4%. Meanwhile, his slider usage has increased from 24.2% in 2019 to 29.9% in 2020.

Using the slider more often has paid off for Tropeano. Opposing batters have not collected a hit off this pitch this season. The pitch has also generated a 44.4% whiff rate, to go with a spine rate of 2151.

The drop in usage of the four-seamed fastball has improved the results of that pitch. After opposing batters hit .292 with a .542 slugging percentage off the pitch in 2019, Tropeano has allowed just one hit off his four-seamer in 2020 and that hit was a single.

His split finger has also seen an increase in usage this season. After throwing the pitch 9.2% of the time in 2019, the usage in 2020 has jumped to 23.6%. This inlcudes a whiff rate that has increased from 36.4% in 2019 to 45.5% in 2020. A driving force behind this has been the pitch having 41.3 inches of vertical movement and 10.4 inches of horizontal movement, both better than league average.

Tropeano has also dropped his change up usage. After throwing the pitch 20.1% last season, that number has dropped to 11.5% this season. The pitch has benefitted from it as the batting average against the pitch has dropped from .400 to .250.

While this has come in a small sample size, Tropeano’s 6.7% walk rate this season is the second lowest of his career. Meanwhile, his 26.7% strikeout rate is a new career high. By all metrics, the changes Tropeano has made to his pitch usage are working for the veteran righty.

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With the success taht Tropeano has found from his new pitch usage in 2020 he could be pitching his way into locking up a spot in the Pirate bullpen entering the 2021 season. Even if not, he has undoubtedly raised the amount of interest teams will have in him this off-season.