Right-handed relief pitcher Robert Stephenson
In late August the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed right-handed reliever Robert Stephenson off waivers from the Colorado Rockies. A former first-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds, Stephenson arrived in Pittsburgh looking to right the ship in what had become choppy waters in his career.
With the Pirates, Stephenson appeared to be doing just that. Stephenson made 13 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing a 3.38 ERA and a 2.81 FIP in 13.1 innings pitched. He walked just 2.0% of batters faced, while striking batters out at a 36.0% clip. Stephenson hit a batter and allowed two home runs as a Pirate.
Last season, Stephenson’s fastball velocity ranked in the 91st percentile of baseball, to go with a fastball spin rate in the 85th percentile and a chase rate in the 93rd percentile. He also threw a plus slider that limited opposing batters to a .170 batting average, .357 slugging, and generated a 44.4% whiff rate.
Stephenson remains under team control through the 2024 season. If he can continue to pitch anywhere near as well as he did down the stretch in 2022 throughout the 2023 season, then he could breakout and emerge as a key cog in the Pirate bullpen across the next two seasons.