Pittsburgh Pirates: Dillon Peters Could be a Diamond in the Rough

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 07: Dillon Peters #38 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the first inning agains tthe Detroit Tigers at PNC Park on September 7, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 07: Dillon Peters #38 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the first inning agains tthe Detroit Tigers at PNC Park on September 7, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates added left-handed pitcher Dillon Peters from the Los Angeles Angles earlier this summer. Could he be a potential diamond in the rough?

Earlier this summer the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired a left-handed pitcher by the name of Dillon Peters. On July 19th the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Peters from the Angels in exchange for cash considerations.

Entering the 2021 season Peters had tossed 132.2 innings with the Angels and Miami Marlins in his MLB career, combining for a poor 5.83 ERA, 5.85 FIP, and 1.61 WHIP. However since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates, he’s looked like a solid arm. Could he be a potential diamond in the rough find by Ben Cherington?

thus far with the Pittsburgh Pirates Peters owns a 3.38 ERA, 3.53 FIP, and 1.28 WHIP through just 18.2 innings of work. He’s never been a big strikeout pitcher and he only has an 18.5% strikeout rate this year. His control also hasn’t been overly impressive with an 8.6% walk rate. While not a big strikeout guy, he’s still getting batters to whiff at his offerings at a 24.2% rate, which is roughly league average. Peters is also getting batters to chase at a 29.2% rate, a tad higher than the average mark.

But Peters is a strong ground ball pitcher. He has induced ground balls at a 48.3% rate and has a fantastic opponent 15.5% line drive rate. Peters has an above-average 87.6 MPH exit velo, which would fall around the top 70th percentile if he pitched enough innings to qualify. Plus his hard-hit rate of 37.9% would fall in the top 56th percentile. Inducing ground balls will get a lot of outs. But inducing ground balls while having above-average hard-hit numbers will help even more.

Peters uses a fastball, curveball, changeup, and sinker. His curveball averages 2827 RPM which is in the top 89th percentile. The sinker is a newly added pitcher this year. Now I know what you’re thinking: make him throw a sinker? What is this? A Ray Searage tactic? But in Peters’ case, it works. The lefty isn’t a hard thrower by any means. His four-seamer only comes in around the low-90’s. Heck, it only averages 90.8 MPH. He’s the kind of guy who is supposed to induce weak contact with a sinker and who should be using a pitch-to-contact strategy.

The added sinker has replaced his slider and it’s been a very effective pitch this year. He’s tossed it about 19.1% of the time this year. Opponents have managed just a .200 batting average, .360 slugging percentage, and .272 wOBA against it. Peters has a -1.9 RV/100. His high-spin curveball also has a fantastic 4.8 RV/100, which if he had thrown it enough to qualify, would be the 4th most effective curveball in baseball.

It’s also worth noting that he’s changed up how often he throws some of his offerings. He’s using his fastball at a career-low 32.1% rate. He’s seen an uptick in curveball usage from 11.1% in 2020 to 14.7% with the Bucs. He’s using his change-up more often than his fastball, using it at a 34.1% rate. With his newly acquired pitch (the sinker), what pitches he uses and how often he uses them are a whole lot different compared to 2020.

Now, granted, there are still concerns with his season. The underlying numbers for Peters are not great. He has a 4.83 xFIP, 4.79 SIERA, and 5.50 DRA. Plus we’re still looking at a very small sample size since he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Next. Chad Kuhl Finding Success Out of the Bullpen. dark

But ERA estimators will never look highly upon guys like Peters, low-strikeout, soft-contact inducing with good control kind of pitchers. While I’m not arguing that Peters will be the next Tom Glavine, so far he’s looked like a solid mid/back of the rotation arm.

The added sinker to his arsenal may possibly be his road to success. Only time and a larger sample size will tell, but I believe there is a good chance he can be a diamond in the rough kind of find because of the changes he has made to his arsenal.

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