Pittsburgh Pirates Swept by Los Angeles Dodgers as Slide Continues

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 18: Yoshi Tsutsugo #32 of the Pittsburgh Pirates leaps at the wall but can't reach the two-run home run ball hit by Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of the game at Dodger Stadium on August 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 18: Yoshi Tsutsugo #32 of the Pittsburgh Pirates leaps at the wall but can't reach the two-run home run ball hit by Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of the game at Dodger Stadium on August 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 18: JT Brubaker #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates holds his head after giving up a three-run home run to Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning of the game at Dodger Stadium on August 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 18: JT Brubaker #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates holds his head after giving up a three-run home run to Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning of the game at Dodger Stadium on August 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

JT Brubaker needs to be shut down

Earlier this week I wrote about if the Pittsburgh Pirates should look to shut down pitcher JT Brubaker. Following his poor outing in the final game of this series, it is clear that Brubaker needs shut down for the remainder of the 2021 season.

Brubaker got off to a terrific start for the Pirates this season. In his first 14 starts Brubaker posted a 3.82 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 5.2% walk rate and a 23.1% strikeout rate. Brubaker pitched 77.2 innings in these starts. While he struggled with the home run ball in these starts (1.51 HR/9), Brubaker was on pace to be over a 3.0 WAR pitcher.

Since the calendar flipped to July, however, Brubaker has completely imploded. Wednesday night Brubaker allowed 7 runs on 8 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts and 3 home runs allowed in 4 innings pitched. In his last 8 starts Brubaker has allowed 44 hits, 15 home runs, he’s walked 16 batters and struck out 43 in 38.2 innings pitched. This has led to him posting a 8.95 ERA, 3.53 HR/9 and a 9.0% walk rate in these starts.

Seeing Brubaker hit a wall is not a total surprise. The Pirate brass said they would look to watch Brubaker’s work load in the second half of the season. This came after he pitched just 47.1 innings last season and was limited to just 27.2 innings in the minor leagues in 2019 due to a forearm strain. Having pitched just 75 innings the past two seasons Brubaker was a candidate to hit a wall and now it appears that is happening.

Yes, there is an argument to be made for Brubaker working through his current struggles. That said, the cons of continuing to send him out there with a potential dead arm with him hitting a wall greatly outweigh the pros. At this point continuing to send Brubaker out there to start every five days may just be detrimental toward his long-term development.

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