Pittsburgh Pirates: JT Brubaker Appears to Be Turning a Corner


In under-the-radar fashion JT Brubaker has pitched well for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season and appears to be turning a corner as a starting pitcher

Entering the 2022 season one of the biggest needs for the Pittsburgh Pirates was to find starting pitching. Outside of signing José Quintana, who has pitched marvelously, to a one-year free agent deal and adding Zach Thompson in the Jacob Stallings trade, nothing was done in the offseason to improve the starting rotation.

It appeared that Ben Cherington and the Pirate brass would be banking on young pitchers they already had stepping and taking a step forward. One starting pitcher who appears to be doing this is 28-year-old righty JT Brubaker.

Brubaker has made 12 starts this season pitching 58.2 innings. He has posted a 4.60 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 9.8% walk rate and a 22.6% strikeout rate. While his 1.23 HR/9 is a tick higher than you would like to see, it is a big improvement over his 2.03 HR/9 from last season.

When it comes to Brubaker it goes deeper than just his season stats when it comes to him appearing to be turning a corner. He struggled in Opening Day start against the St. Louis Cardinals and horrendous outfield defense by Hoy Park hurt him in his second start of the season. Since then, Brubaker appears to be turning a corner.

In his last 10 starts Brubaker has pitched 51.1 innings, posting a 3.86 ERA and a 4.13 FIP. Brubaker has walked 8.4% of batters faced, struck out 23.5% and has allowed 7 home runs (1.23 HR/9) in these 10 starts.

During this 10 start stretch Brubaker has done a great job of limiting quality contact. Opposing batters have a 19.9% line drive rate and a 31.8% hard hit rate against Brubaker in his last 10 starts, he has also limited opposing batters to an average exit velocity of 87.6 MPH. All of these are better than league average results.

This season Brubaker’s curveball spin rate is in the 86th percentile of baseball. This has led to his curveball generating a 31.3% whiff rate. Speaking of whiff rate, Brubaker is in the 64th percentile of baseball in whiff rate this season.

The biggest reason it appears Brubaker could be turning a corner is his slider. Brubaker’s slider has been a great pitch this season. Opposing batters are hitting just .218 off the pitch and it is generating a whiff rate of 43.3%.

Brubaker’s sinker has also been a very good pitch for him. Opposing batters are hitting just .212 and slugging .313 off the pitch. Brubaker has committed to his sinker and slider this season, throwing the pitches a combined 69.6% of the time.

Now, none of this is to say Brubaker will develop into a top of the rotation starting pitcher or anything of the sort. However, if he continues to pitch the way he has he will, at worst, be a very good back of the rotation arm for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which is always valuable to have.

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In his last 10 starts Brubaker has looked like a pitcher that appears to be turning a corner as a major league starting pitcher. There are also are plenty of positive signs that stretch back to his first start of the season. Watching Brubaker the rest of the season will be worthwhile for Pirate fans as it appears they could have a long-term rotation piece on their hands in Brubaker.