Pittsburgh Pirates: Breaking Down Each Breakout Pitching Candidate

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 12: Bryse Wilson #48 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the Washington Nationals during the game at PNC Park on September 12, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 12: Bryse Wilson #48 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the Washington Nationals during the game at PNC Park on September 12, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Sep 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Wil Crowe (29) throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sport
Sep 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Wil Crowe (29) throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sport /

Wil Crowe

Acquired as the second player in the Josh Bell swap, Wil Crowe will have a chance to earn a rotation spot. While he might be the least popular name we’ll talk about today, there’s the potential for a 5th starter/innings eater-type arm within the right-hander.

Last year, Crowe started 25 games (including one outing out of the pen), tossing 116.2 innings. Crowe lumbered to the tune of a 5.48 ERA, 5.67 FIP, and 1.57 WHIP. Crowe struggled to get strikeouts, limit walks, and limit home runs. He had a 10.9% walk rate, 21.2% strikeout rate, and 1.93 HR/9.

Now it wasn’t all doom-and-gloom for Crowe, and he did have a few solid moments throughout 2021. He had a solid month of July and ended the campaign with 19.2 innings allowing just 7 earned runs with 22 strikeouts. Crowe also ranked as an above-average pitcher when limiting hard contact. He was in the top 51st percentile of exit velocity and top 63rd percentile of hard-hit rate. He also threw an effective change-up with a -4 run value.

However, Crowe is likely the odd man out in a fight for a rotation spot if push comes to shove. His stuff may play up out of the bullpen, but his ceiling as a starter is a #5 arm. He never performed exceptionally well in the upper minors, nor does he have the phenomenal stuff to compete for a spot once Yajure, Contreras, and Mlodzinski join Zach Thompson in the major leagues. Still, there are a few things that could work in his favor next season to give him a leg-up on the rotation competition.

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