The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed right-handed reliever Robert Stephenson off waivers from the Colorado Rockies and designated Kevin Padlo for assignment.
The Pittsburgh Pirates made a waiver claim today, selecting Robert Stephenson off waivers from the Colorado Rockies. To make room for Stephenson, the Pirates have subsequently designated Kevin Padlo for assignment. The first to report on the news was Justice Delos Santos who announced the move on Twitter:
It’s been a rough go of things for Stephenson this year. In 44.2 innings, Stephenson has limped to a 6.04 ERA, 4.67 FIP, and 1.48 WHIP through 44.2 innings of work. Stephenson has given up home runs at a 1.61 HR/9 is a career worst, and his 18.8% K-rate is a 7.6% decrease from 2021. Of the few positives for Stephenson this year, he has a 6.6% walk rate, a career best mark and 1.6% better than the league average rate.
Despite these poor numbers, Stephenson has been extremely effective in two of the three prior seasons. In 2019 and 2021, the right-hander had an ERA+ of 125 and 153, respectively. He was excellent for the Rockies last year, working to the tune of a 3.13 ERA, 3.63 FIP, and 1.30 WHIP through 46 IP. He struck out well over a quarter of the batters he faced with a 26.4% K-rate while carrying an HR/9 under 1.00, clocking in at 0.98. He’s still in the top 92nd percentile of fastball velocity and top 85th percentile of fastball spin rate. He’s also above average in the chase rate and whiff rate.
Stephenson also might find it easier to bounceback in a much more pitcher friendly environment. He’s pitched for the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado, two of the most hitter friendly environments in the MLB. This year, Coors Field and Great American Ballpark lead the league in average number of home runs given up on average. Meanwhile, PNC Park is around the middle of the pack, ranking 13th.
Kevin Padlo was selected off waivers by the Pirates on August 7th, but only appeared in three major league games. However in the seven games and 30 plate appearances he’s had at Triple-A, Padlo has 18 hits, including four doubles and a home run. Padlo was nothing more than a depth piece on the 40-man roster, keeping the seat warm for a greater player.
Although Stephenson has struggled this season, you can’t deny he’s been fairly effective the last couple of years. He’s a nice bounceback candidate to take a flyer on. Stephenson is controlled through 2023 so if the re-figures things out down the stretch, the Pirates will surely be willing to bring him back next season.