Miguel Yajure is off to a very poor start to 2022, but should the Pittsburgh Pirates start to worry?
Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Miguel Yajure is off to a terrible start, and terrible might be an understatement. He’s off to a horrid, hideous, ghastly start to 2022. He’s only pitched 8.1 innings this year, but has surrendered 13 earned runs and has walked four batters to oppose just two strikeouts.
Entering the season Yajure was viewed as an eventual starting rotation option. That raises the question, is his start to the season something the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans should start worrying about?
Yajure came over as part of the Jameson Taillon deal. When the Pirates acquired him, most ranked him higher than Roansy Contreras. He had steadily climbed the Yankee system and became a pretty notable prospect for them. In 2021, he spent most of the season at Triple-A Indianapolis where he did solid, posting a 3.09 ERA, 4.35 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP. Plus he had a .415 xFIP showing he could potentially improve.
Last season Yajure was limited to a total of just 62.2 innings between the minors and MLB. The young right-hander suffered an arm strain during summer, which considerably hurt his pitch velocity late into the season. He opened the season hitting 92-94 MPH at Indy, but could barely reach 90 MPH by the end of the season.
Although he’s struggled mightily in the small sample size, he has seen his fastball velo go from just 90.5 MPH to 92.7 MPH, regaining the speed he lost from last season. His overall arsenal has seen an uptick in MPH compared to last year.
One thing to keep in mind is that Yajure hasn’t pitched much going into this year. He only threw 23 of his innings last year before August. He missed two straight months in 2021 and then only tossed 32.1 innings with Indy and Pittsburgh. He missed a good chunk of spring training as well. He pitched just two innings before heading North with the club.
It’s a little surprising that Yajure actually cracked the Opening Day roster with the Bucs. Yajure should have gotten stretched out at Indianapolis as a starting pitcher. However, due to injuries to pitchers on the team’s 40-man roster Yajure found himself on the club.
Being used as a reliever might also impact how he performs. 41 of his last 45 minor league appearances have been starts. Although on paper a starting pitcher should excel as a bullpen arm, that just isn’t always going to be the case.
Now I’m not going to sugar coat it, Yajure’s small sample size so far looks like a dumpster fire everyone forgot to put out. But it’s just that, a small sample size. Ask Roger Clemens how he did in his first six starts. He had an ERA over 6 and an OPS of .900 as a rookie in 1986. Mariano Rivera started his career off by giving up 17 earned runs and 4 home runs in 15 innings.
Yes, those are extreme cases, but pitching poorly in four games after pretty much no spring training opportunities and in a role Yajure is unfamiliar, while showing improved velocity with shouldn’t be enough to make fans panic as to whether or not he can ever prove himself.