Ace… Steven Brault?
Who the hell is going to be at the top of the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021? That’s a great question!
If Opening Day was tomorrow the starter would likely be lefty Steven Brault. In 11 games last season, 10 starts, Brault had a career-best 3.38 ERA and 3.92 FIP in 42.2 innings of work. While his 12.4% walk rate was the highest of his career, so was his 21.3% strikeout rate.
Brault also did an excellent job limiting opposing batter’s quality contact. His 85.8 MPH exit velocity ranked in the 89th percentile in baseball, his 4.4% barrel rate was in the 83rd percentile and his 32.7% hard hit rate was in the 76th percentile.
Dating back to late May of 2019, Brault appears to have turned a corner as a MLB pitcher. In 29 games pitched, 27 starts, since May 24th, 2019, Brault has posted a 4.16 ERA and a 4.20 FIP in 136.1 innings pitched. He has allowed home runs at just a 0.79 HR/9 rate, while walking 10.5% of batters faced and striking out 20.1%.
All of that said, there have also been trade rumors swirling around Brault this offseason and it would not be a surprise to see him also get traded before the start of the season. If Brault is still a Pirate by Opening Day, look for him to sit at the top of the rotation to start the season.