Pittsburgh Pirates: Tyler Beede’s Improved Fastball and Changeup

Aug 8, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tyler Beede (48) throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 8, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tyler Beede (48) throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Tyler Beede has been a successful waiver claim after improving his fastball and changeup

There wasn’t much buzz around the Pittsburgh Pirates waiver claim of Tyler Beede. A former first-round pick and top prospect, Beede limped a poor 5.39 ERA, 5.09 FIP, and 1.57 WHIP in 135.1 innings as a San Francisco Giant. On top of that poor performance, Beede also underwent Tommy John surgery which eliminated him for the entirety of 2020 and most of 2021.

After a poor start to the season where Beede gave up five earned runs in only 9.2 innings, including five walks and only four strikeouts, the Giants designated the right-hander for assignment. That’s when the Pittsburgh Pirates swooped in, claimed him, and put him in the bullpen, where he’s been a solid arm.

Before going any further it should be noted that Beede’s pitch data is reflective of what it was entering his start on Monday night. His stats, however, are updated following his strong outing against Arizona.

Outside of his recent work as an opener, Beede has primarily worked as a reliever this season. Beede has pitched a total of 45.1 innings this season between the Giants and Pirates, posting a 3.57 ERA and a 4.24 FIP.

On the season, Beede has a poor 13.4% strikeout rate but a 9.6% walk rate while only allowing three home runs. Beede has become a ground ball pitcher, getting batters to hit the ball into the ground 52.1% of the time. His opponent’s exit velo of 88.3 MPH is also about average, which helps his ground ball rate play up slightly.

Beede can thank his success to his improved fastball and changeup. When he made his debut in 2018, his four-seamer averaged out at just 92.5 MPH, putting him in just the 43rd percentile of fastball velocity. He did have a slightly above average spin with 2229 RPM, though, which was in the 53rd percentile.

Beede now averages out at 96 MPH with his fastball, which is in the top 85th percentile of fastball velocity. But Beede has lost a good portion of spin. He’s now in just the 19th percentile of fastball spin at 2082 RPM. However his active spin has increased significantly.

Active spin refers to the percentage of spin that contributes to a pitch’s movement. In 2021, Beede’s fastball had an active spin of 92%. He increased that to 96%, which has helped him gain 2.5 inches of total movement on his four-seamer. His RV/100 went from +3.5 in 2018 to just +1.4 in 2022. That’s still below average, but an improvement nonetheless.

His changeup has also improved. Like his fastball, Beede’s changeup has lost some spin, going from 1600 RPM to 1589 RPM. It was not as steep of a drop like his fastball, but the lack of spin does help a changeup. Both his spin rate and observed active spin are moving in the right directions. He’s losing some spin on his change but is increasing the effectiveness of the spin, going from an observed active spin percentage of 81.6% to 88.4%. It’s been his most valuable pitch with a -3.2 run value/100 and a run difference of 6 from 2019.

Beede is having a season similar to that of Vin Mazzaro in 2013. Mazzaro had a similar strikeout rate (15.1%) and HR/9 (0.37), along with an above-average walk rate (6.9%). Mazzaro had a 2.81 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP. Mazzaro and Beede had almost identical ground ball rates, with the former coming in at 52.2%. Mazzaro primarily served as a long relief/multi-inning reliever back in 2013 as well.

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Beede has become a fairly reliable long relief/multi-inning arm for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. His worst outing was arguably his most recent one when he was thrust into an opener role, a position he is unfamiliar with. Even if he’s never a high-leverage reliever, he can still play a key role.

Mazzaro pitched the most innings among any Pirate pitcher in 2013 who didn’t make a start and was an important part of the “Shark Tank” even if he wasn’t regularly seeing late-inning situations. Beede is under team control through 2025, so the former top prospect could end up finding a role as a bullpen piece for the long haul.