In his 13 outings with the Pittsburgh Pirates, reliever Robert Stephenson put the right foot forward and appeared to take a big step in his development
On August 27 the Pittsburgh Pirates added a former first-round pick from a National League Central foe off waivers. The player they claimed was Robert Stephenson, who was selected 27th overall by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2011 MLB Draft.
When Stephenson came to the Pittsburgh Pirates he was a struggling former first-round pick looking to find his way. After struggling with the Colorado Rockies he was designated for assignment, which created his opportunity in Pittsburgh.
With the Pirates, Stephenson would take advantage of the opportunity he was given. Stephenson put the right foot forward and pitched well for the Pirates. He now enters the offseason appearing to have a spot in the team’s 2023 Opening Day bullpen locked up.
Stephenson pitched 13.1 innings in 13 appearances with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In these 13.1 innings pitched, Stephenson posted a 3.38 ERA and a 3.81 FIP. He allowed 10 hits, walked 2.0% of batters faced, struck out batters at a 36.0% clip, he hit a batter, and allowed two home runs (1.35 HR/9).
With the Pirates, Stephenson rode his slider. Stephenson threw his slider at a 69.4% clip after joining the Pittsburgh Pirates. He mixed in his four-seamed fastball, which averaged 96.5 MPH, at a 28.2% clip. He also mixed in a curveball 2.4% of the time.
Riding the slider appears to be a path to success for Stephenson. Opposing batters hit just .170 while slugging .357 off of Stephenson’s slider. The average exit velocity off the pitch was just 87.3 MPH and it generated a very healthy 44.4% whiff rate.
Entering the 2023 season, Stephenson will likely have a spot locked up in the Pirate bullpen. Potentially even as a late inning high-leverage arm to compliment Wil Crowe and David Bednar. If Stephenson can pick up where he left off at in 2022, then the 2023 season could be a breakout campaign for Stephenson.