Bryse Wilson has been pitching better for the Pittsburgh Pirates lately and an increase sinker usage has been a contributing factor
The Pittsburgh Pirates entered the season with right-hander Bryse Wilson in the starting rotation, and he struggled. His first six outings and 33.2 innings saw him put up an 8.29 ERA, 5.26 FIP, and 1.84 WHIP. Wilson dished out walks to 9.2% of batters faced while having just a 16.6% strikeout rate. Granted, a poor 51.3% left-on-base rate and .320 batting average on balls in play weren’t doing him any favors, but overall, he was heavily struggling.
Wilson was sent back to Triple-A, where he did a whole lot better. Once he got recalled, things turned for the better. Since July, Wilson has had a 3.83 ERA, 5.23 FIP, and 1.14 WHIP in 44.2 innings pitched across eight starts.
While Wilson’s strikeout rate has decreased to 13.7%, his walk rate is a minuscule 2.7%, the lowest walk rate among pitchers with 40 or more innings under their belt since the outset of July. His FIP remains relatively constant to his first half numbers, but his xFIP has decreased from 4.70 to a much more manageable 4.36.
Wilson’s batting average on balls in play is .264, with a 77.8% left-on-base rate. His 1.81 HR/9 is nothing to brag about, but he does have a 46% ground ball rate despite poor exit velocity and hard-hit numbers. Regardless, Wilson’s recent run of success has been fueled by increased usage of his sinker.
His sinker has become his most used offering since the start of his improvement, with his four-seamer taking a backseat in his repertoire. Wilson’s sinker has quality movement, having 24.3 inches of drop and 16.2 inches of horizontal break. His sinker has racked up a -2 run value this year.
Wilson’s sinker only averages out at 1960 RPM. However, despite the low spin rate, he has a high active spin percentage, meaning a good amount of the spin he throws the pitch with contributes to its movement. Wilson’s active spin percentage sits at 93%.
Wilson has been a very solid pitcher as of recently, with his sinker being a significant contributing factor to his success. It’s become his most used offering in his five-pitch mix. The Pittsburgh Pirates have seen a few other pitchers like JT Brubaker and Mitch Keller adopt the sinker as their primary offering and they’ve seen a massive amount of success this year, and Wilson may be a third player to that list.