If the Pittsburgh Pirates look into any extensions with their pitchers, they should look into one with Joe Musgrove. Since arriving in Pittsburgh, Musgrove has been a very solid pitcher. Through his first two seasons, the right hander pitched 285.2 innings posting a 4.28 ERA, but 3.72 FIP and 1.20 WHIP. Though he only struck out batters at a 21.3% rate, he put up a strong 5.1% walk rate and solid 1.04 HR/9. Musgrove also had a Deserved Run Average below 4.00 in both seasons.
This past season, Musgrove only pitched 39.2 innings, but was very effective. He had a 3.86 ERA, 3.42 FIP and 1.24 WHIP. After previously putting up sub-par strikeout rates, Musgrove struck out 33.1% of the batters he faced. This came at the price of his control as his walk rate spiked to 9.6%. His HR/9 still remained at a solid 1.13 and his DRA sat at a strong 3.64 mark.
His batted ball rates were excellent as well. He posted a career best mark in exit velocity (85.6 MPH) and hard hit rate (32.3%) which pairs well with his strong ground ball tendencies (45.2% ground ball rate since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates). Though he doesn’t throw hard with his fastball averaging just 92.6 MPH, it did sit in the top 81st percentile of spin rate. Impressively, Musgrove throws six pitches with his four-seamer being just one. He alsos throws a slider, curveball, sinker, change up and cutter. Musgrove’s curveball usage went up by over 10% between 2019 to 2020, going from just 9.5% to 19.9%.
Like Bell, Musgrove is only controlled through 2022. The Pittsburgh Pirates do have a handful of young, notable pitchers. Mitch Keller has been both extremely unlucky and extremely lucky, but has only seen 69.2 innings in the majors. He’s shown talent, but has yet to put things all together.
Their top pitching prospect Tahnaj Thomas, first-round picks Quinn Priester and Brennan Malone from 2019 and Carmen Mlodzinski from 2020 and top 10 prospect Cody Bolton are among their best young arms in the minors. Still, even though the Pirates have a handful of young pitchers, if they extend any players, Musgrove should be one the first player they look into.