Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at Current Bullpen Options for 2023

Apr 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar (51) delivers against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar (51) delivers against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 29: Yerry De Los Santos #57 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park on July 29, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 29: Yerry De Los Santos #57 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park on July 29, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Breakout Candidates

Yerry De Los Santos debuted this year. He broke rookie status, but barely. However, that’s just enough to make it from prospects to breakout candidates. Overall, De Los Santos didn’t look too bad. The last outing of the season bombed what were otherwise solid numbers. In his first 25.2 innings, the right-hander had a 3.51 ERA, struck out 25.7% of the batters he faced, and posted a quality 7.5% walk rate.

While De Los Santos allowed over one home run every nine innings, he did have a ground ball rate well over 50% at 52.9% and an opponent exit velocity of 88.7 MPH. There’s a good chance he can bring that down next season. De Los Santos should return in 2023 and could take over a late-inning role. After all, he was considered the prime 9th-inning option once David Bednar landed on the injured list.

Dauri Moreta was acquired in the recent Kevin Newman one-for-one swap. On the surface, Moreta had a terrible rookie season. He worked to a 5.40 ERA and 5.80 FIP. But there were some silver linings to his season. For one, he had a 24.4% strikeout rate and an 8.1% walk rate. Moreta struggled the most with home runs, allowing on average 2.35-per-nine innings. Plus, with a 90.6 MPH exit velocity, it was no massive surprise the gopher ball brought him down.

However, Moreta did have a strong second half. His last 24.1 innings saw him work to a 2.92 ERA, 3.92 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP. Moreta may have given up a ton of home runs, but he also had a 19.6% HR/FB ratio in one of baseball’s most notorious home run-friendly parks. Moreta throws hard and showed off an outstanding slider/fastball combo. There’s certainly more than meets the eye when it comes to Moreta.

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