Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Relief Pitcher Chaz Roe

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 19: Chaz Roe #52 of the Tampa Bay Rays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2020 in New York City. The Rays defeated the Yankees 4-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 19: Chaz Roe #52 of the Tampa Bay Rays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2020 in New York City. The Rays defeated the Yankees 4-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates could lose a handful of relief pitchers this off season, and Chaz Roe could be a solid fill-in.

This offseason is going to be like something we have never seen before. Many low-cost or reasonable options have been bought out instead of being picked up. Teams across baseball, not just the Pittsburgh Pirates, are trying to keep payrolls as low as possible because of the mass revenue losses across the sport.

But even if every team is trying to keep spending to a minimum, you need to fill in some spots some way. The Pittsburgh Pirates could use a low cost relief pitcher as they let go Nick Tropeano and Keone Kela hitting free agency. They also have a few non-tender candidates who are relief pitchers. If the Pirates go after one relief pitcher available, they should go after right hander Chaz Roe.

Roe was actually in the Pirate organization. The Pittsburgh Pirates had selected him off waivers back in September 2014, but was granted free agency just a few months later in December of the same year.

The Pirates were the seventh team Roe was a part of since being selected with the 32nd overall pick in the draft by the Colorado Rockies in 2005. After hitting the open market, Roe signed with the Baltimore Orioles and was selected off waivers again by the Atlanta Braves. But Roe had undeniable talent, one that the Tampa Bay Rays recgonized. Recently, Roe elected free agency when the Rays were cutting down roster spots.

Roe was purchased from the Braves in August 2017. Roe got his first big taste of big league action at age 31, but was quite effective. In 50.1 innings, the right hander had a 3.58 ERA, 4.03 FIP and 1.01 WHIP. Roe had a 3.30 SIERA and 3.71 DRA. Roe was outstanding in inducing weak contact. His hard hit rate was just 27.4% and batters could only manage an exit velocity of 84.8 MPH, both of which were among the best in baseball that year. Roe also got a decent amount of strikeouts with a 26.1% strikeout rate and put up a solid 7.9% walk rate.

The following year, Roe had a 4.03 ERA, but a 3.31 FIP. Roe did see his strikeout rate rise to 28.4%, and he kept up a strong hard hit rate at 28.2% and exit velo at 86.5 MPH. Roe cut his home run rate in half essentially going from 1.1 HR/9 to just 0.5. However, walks were a big issue for Roe, spiking to 13.5%. The large amount of walks led to poor ERA estimators with a 4.27 SIERA, 4.34 xFIP and 4.71 DRA.

Roe was ready to be one of the team’s set up men again in 2020, but an elbow injury kept him out for most of the year. Roe pitched just 9.1 innings before being placed on the injured list in late-August.

Though the arm injury might make some teams turn away from Roe, he doesn’t rely on velocity to get outs. His fastball averaged just 92.1 MPH, and it’s not even a pitch he uses that often. Roe’s primary pitch is a slider, and it’s a devastatingly elite pitch.

His slider consistently sits with about 2950 RPM, and it has some wicked movement. His slider had the most horizontal break in baseball in 2019 with 22.8 inches, 3.1 inches more than the next guy, which was Kyle Crick. In terms of vertical movement, he had 46.3 inches on the pitch which was 18th in baseball. Roe’s slider is probably one of the most underrated pitches in all of baseball because it might be one of the best sliders in recent baseball history.

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With losing two relief pitchers already, and potentially more on the horizon, the Pittsburgh Pirates need to take a low cost shot on Roe. The right hander’s devastating slider makes him extremely intriguing, and it could potentially get the Pirates some interesting pieces come deadline time.

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