Pittsburgh Pirates: Two Depth Pick-Ups Doing Solid for the Team

(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have made a handful of depth addition across the last few months, and two of them have done solid for their MLB club

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed six different players throughout this past offseason. They also made a few trades early in the season where they acquired some depth pieces. So far this year, two of those depth pieces have been pretty solid pick-ups by the Pittsburgh Pirates and have been contributing to the major league team so far this season.

These two players have recently been playing well for the Pirates over the course of the last month or so. They deserve some recognition for their recent play, and I wanted to focus on them today.

Relief Pitcher Chasen Shreve

The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up Chasen Shreve on a minor league deal late in the off-season. The veteran lefty previously played with both New York teams, Atlanta Braves, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Shreve has pitched 15.2 innings this year, owning a strong 1.72 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, but 4.82 FIP. The southpaw has not gotten many strikeouts. His 23% strikeout rate is a far cry from the 27% mark he had from 2015-2020. He currently has a career-low whiff rate at just 22.7%, which is nearly 15% lower compared to his 2020 mark of 37.4%.

However, while he isn’t getting many strikeouts, his control has been better. He’s only walking batters at an 8.2% rate. This would be the first time since 2016 he had a BB% below 10%. Even then, it would be a career-best as his 2016 mark was 9.2%. Home runs have been a bit of an issue with a 1.72 HR/9 rate, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary for Shreve. He had a 1.71 HR/9 from 2015-2020. Though his 47.6% ground ball rate is a career-best mark.

Shreve’s underlying numbers still represent a solid pitcher. He has a 4.00 xFIP, 3.19 xERA, 3.80 SIERA, and 4.42 DRA. Overall, his ERA estimators are closer to league average, but his expected numbers are much better. He has a .372 xSLG and strong .285 xwOBA.

Outfielder Ben Gamel

The Pittsburgh Pirates claimed Ben Gamel off waivers from the Cleveland Indians. Now his numbers so far with the Pirates are pretty much league average. He’s hitting .250/.313/.400 with a .309 wOBA, and 97 wRC+. However, over the past month, he’s been a very productive batter.

Through his past 63 plate appearances, the waiver claimed outfielder is batting for a .273/.339/.455 line, .342 wOBA, and 118 wRC+. Gamel has provided some pop for the Bucs’ line-up. He has a .182 isolated slugging percentage and 6 of his 15 hits have been for extra bases. He’s gotten even better as the season has gone on. Since June 10th. He’s had 12 hits, 6 walks, and 6 extra-base hits in this time frame.

Gamel has shown some decent plate discipline. He’s walked at an 8.9% rate during his entire time with the Bucs and a 9.5% walk rate since June 10th. He also hasn’t struck out much. His 23.9% K-rate with the Pirates is exactly the league average rate. But he’s significantly cut that down. He has only gone down on strike three 20% of the time since June 10th.

Much of his good production has come from strong batted ball rates. Gamel has an outstanding 30.2% ground ball rate with the Bucs. His line-drive rate is nearly at the same rate at 27.9%. He’s also hitting fly balls at an above-average 41.9% rate. Gamel has an 89.4 MPH exit velocity so his numbers could get better as the season goes on.

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Gamel has also done well when it comes to defense. Through 217.2 innings in the grass, he already has +1 DRS, a 9.3 UZR/150, and .7 range runs above average. Ke’Bryan Hayes and Kevin Newman are the only two players with a higher range runs and UZR/150 (min. 100 innings).