Pittsburgh Pirates: Assessing Bryse Wilson’s Performance Thus Far

Bryse Wilson is a former top prospect who is looking to find himself with the Pittsburgh Pirates and to lock up a 2022 rotation spot

Upon his arrival in Pittsburgh, general manager Ben Cherington was tasked with rebuilding the Pittsburgh Pirates from the ground up. Cherington has made plenty of moves thus far but his acquiring of right-handed pitcher Bryse Wilson stood out to me.

As recently as 2019, Wilson was a top-10 prospect in the Atlanta Braves system behind Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright. The future looked very bright for the Braves’ rotation.

However, Wilson struggled upon his promotion to the major leagues. He posted a career 5-4 record with a 5.45 ERA in 74.1 innings pitched with the Braves. His shine as a big time pitching prospect began to wear off.

To the Pittsburgh Pirates credit they acquired a guy who stood toe-to-toe with Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw in game four of the 2020 NLCS. He pitched six shutout innings and got the win as a rookie against an all-time great. Pittsburgh could use that playoff experience in a few years.

The Braves needed bullpen help at the 2021 trade deadline and acquired Richard Rodriguez from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh, in obvious need of immediate and long term starting pitching help, acquired Wilson in that deal. They also acquired right-handed pitcher Ricky DeVito.

Still only 23-years old, Wilson provides the Pittsburgh Pirates with a solid right-hander that has the pedigree and potential to develop into an actual piece of the Pirate future.

Featuring a five-pitch mix, Wilson does not have the overpowering swing-and-miss stuff that is highly-coveted among pitchers in 2021. Instead, he uses his off-speed stuff to try and generate ground ball outs.

Since his first start with Pittsburgh on August 2nd, Wilson is 0-3 with a 4.35 ERA in 31.0 innings pitched. It seems the Pirates are taking a more cautious approach with him as his pitch counts have stayed anywhere between 65-85 pitches per start. He had one outlier start against the Reds on August 8 where he threw 97 pitches over 6 solid innings.

When considering the landscape of the Pirate farm system at the moment, most of their top prospects reside in the lower levels of the minors. Wilson represents an already battle tested veteran at such a young age. That can only be a positive as he continues to develop into a major league pitcher.

Despite a winless tenure as a Pirate so far, Wilson has been fairly solid since coming over from Atlanta. He hasn’t had any truly bad starts. He’s allowed four earned in a few starts but his actual performance didn’t match the uglier looking line.

In his start on August 31st, Wilson entered the sixth inning down one run. He gave up two fluky hits and had runners on first and third with no outs. Instead of allowing Wilson the opportunity to prove that he could work out of his own situation, manager Derek Shelton pulled Wilson from the game.

Relief pitcher Chasen Shreve inherited those runners and allowed both to score almost immediately. That left Wilson’s line looking a bit less appealing but not justifying what he had done to that point.

In a year all about finding out what you have in the guys on the current roster, that is the type of situation that the manager must allow someone like Wilson a chance to prove his mettle.

Assuming he stays healthy, Wilson will get about three or four more starts on the year. He’ll head into 2022 with a virtually guaranteed spot in the rotation. It will be important for him to stay healthy and make the most of his starts in 2022. He finally will have a legitimate opportunity to consistently pitch at the front end of a rotation.

Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates would love to see a full, healthy season of Wilson next year. His performance could dictate his future with the Pirates. 2023 and 2024 should see the majority of the young prospects beginning to flood into Pittsburgh. The Pirates want Wilson to be a part of that next winning core. A solid finish to 2021 and an even better season in 2022 would go a long way in ensuring that happens.