Despite his bottom line numbers, Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Wil Crowe has had a good year, only being tanked by a recent bad stretch of games.
Despite what his bottom line numbers may say, Wil Crowe has had a pretty decent season. The Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander has silently had a quality breakout campaign, but a dreadful stretch of recent games has tanked his 2022 numbers. We’ve already covered how awful he has been since being thrust into a 9th inning role, but the change in numbers has been dramatic.
Up until late August, Wil Crowe had a bid for a sub-3.00 ERA season after greatly struggling as a starting pitcher in 2021. On August 10th, Crowe finished the day with a 3.12 ERA, .322 FIP, and 1.19 WHIP. This wasn’t a small sample size, either. This was 60.2 innings of work. Opponents couldn’t hit Crowe, and he wasn’t giving up hard-hit baseballs when they did. He had just an 86.4 MPH exit velocity and a 26.7% hard-hit rate. On top of that, he had a 48.8% ground ball rate (this is all including his pitching appearance when he had to throw to Josh VanMeter).
In the month and a half leading up to his lousy stretch, Crowe had a 2.20 ERA while holding opponents to a .695 OPS. It’s not as if he was seeing low-leverage, blow-out games either. All 16 of his appearances came in the 7th inning or later, and 13 of the appearances were with a lead or deficit of two runs or fewer. These were high-leverage appearances where he had little wiggle room to work with.
But since then, Crowe has given up 13 earned runs in his last 13 innings of work. Just to show how bad that is, he gave up just 21 earned runs throughout the entire season up until now. Nearly 40% of the total earned runs he has given up the whole year have come in the last 17.6% of his innings pitched on the season. Heck, his most recent game, where he surrendered five earned runs, makes up 14.7% of his total earned runs allowed all year.
His ERA has shot up over one whole run, going from 3.12 to 4.15. His FIP has taken an even more dramatic increase from 3.22 to 4.30. His WHIP has also been on the rise, skyrocketing from 1.19 to 1.37, and this all happened in less than 15 innings. He went from a pitcher who was on pace for a low-3’s ERA and in contention for an ERA under 3.00 to a pitcher who will be lucky if he can get his ERA under 4.00 before the season ends.
As stated earlier, we already covered the root of these issues with him being forced into the 9th inning, a role he’s clearly uncomfortable with. Luckily with David Bednar back in action, the Pirates might get the good version of Wil Crowe back, the one who was bidding on a sub-3.00 ERA season, and the one who could make a fine 7th and 8th inning arm for the long haul.