Forgotten Pittsburgh Pirates: Pitcher Joe Beimel

PITTSBURGH - JULY 24: Joe Beimel #97 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during the game on July 24, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - JULY 24: Joe Beimel #97 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during the game on July 24, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /

Former Pittsburgh Pirates lefty Joe Beimel is a bit of a forgotten name, but could have one of the most interesting stories in all of MLB in 2021

Many former and forgotten players throughout the Pittsburgh Pirates history have some interesting stories to tell. Very soon, Joe Beimel could be one of those players. However, Beimel is still one of the more forgotten arms the Pirates ever had.

The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Joe Beimel in the 18th round of the 1998 MLB Draft. Beimel was more than familiar with the Pirates as he was born in Saint Marys, Pennsylvania, and drafted out of Duquesne University.

Though he was never a top prospect of any sort, the southpaw came up in 2001 and became a swingman for the team. He wasn’t very effective, only having a 5.00 ERA, 4.85 FIP and 1.57 WHIP in 263 innings from 2001 through 2003. Beimel walked batters at a 10.8% rate and had a poor strikeout rate of just 13%. It also didn’t help he wasn’t a huge home run preventer with an HR/9 of 0.96. For the era, he had an 88 ERA+, 117 ERA-, and 113 FIP-.

Beimel was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of Spring Training 2004. For the next two seasons he played sparingly in the Majors with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays, only pitching in 12.2 total innings.

However, from 2006 through 2010, Beimel had a pretty solid run mainly as a lefty specialist. In 286.2 innings, Beimel had a 3.20 ERA, 3.97 FIP, and 1.34 WHIP with the LA Dodgers, Washington Nationals, and Colorado Rockies. Beimel kept a low strikeout rate with a 12.9% mark to go with a walk rate of just 8.2%, but his HR/9 sat at 0.57. This was largely due to a strong 47.2% ground ball rate.

Beimel made his return to Pittsburgh in 2011 but didn’t find the success he had for a few seasons prior. He pitched just 25.1 innings surrendering 15 earned runs. Beimel’s strikeout and walk rate didn’t change dramatically compared to his 5 season run with a 14.5% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate, but he gave up 6 home runs for a 2.10 HR/9 rate.

Beimel didn’t play in the 2012 season and didn’t appear in the majors in 2013 (but did stick with the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves for the season), but returned in 2014 with the Seattle Mariners. Again, he took up the role as a lefty specialist, tossing 92.1 innings in 109 games. He was pretty solid too with a 3.12 ERA, 4.84 FIP, and 1.27 WHIP. Again, he paired that very low strikeout rate (12.3%) with a so-so walk rate (7.7%) but saw his HR/9 drop to 1.17.

Beimel’s last MLB game was on October 3, 2015. He played with the Kansas City Royals Triple-A affiliate for part of the 2016 season, and the New Britain Bees of the independent Atlantic League in 2017, however, it seemed he was pretty much done.

That was until very recently. Beimel will be returning to professional baseball this year as he signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres on Friday evening. Beimel is currently in his age-44 season. Just for reference, when the lefty made his debut, Padres’ exciting star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was 2 when Beimel made his major league debut. Standout rookie lefty Ryan Weathers was 1 year old. Neither were even born when he was drafted. Fernando Tatis Senior was still 26.

It’s been cited that Beimel was touching the mid-90s in some exhibition games lately. A lefty throwing 95 MPH will definitely turn some heads, even if he’s approaching his mid-40s. This would be about a 7 MPH increase from 2015.

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Former two-time Pittsburgh Pirates lefty Joe Beimel could be one of the most interesting stories of the 2021 season. After not appearing in the majors for the last five seasons, the 44-year-old southpaw could make a comeback. Only time will tell whether he’ll stick in the Majors for any amount of time, but him reappearing in the majors would be a feat of itself.