During the 2023 season Colin Selby flashed why he can be a high-leverage reliever in the majors, but there are some tweaks he and the Pittsburgh Pirates need to make this offseason
Entering the 2023 season, righty Colin Selby was arguably the best relief pitching prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. This was a contributing factor to the Pirates protecting Selby from the Rule 5 Draft last offseason.
Selby started the 2023 season in the minor leagues, but would make his MLB debut in August. While Selby did struggle in the majors following his debut, he was also able to flash at times what made him an exciting relief pitching prospect.
During his time with Triple-A Indianapolis, Selby posted a 3.86 ERA and a 3.34 FIP in 30.1 innings pitched. He did not allow a home run. While he walked 16.5% of batters faced, he struck out a healthy 30.8% of opposing batters.
In the majors, the overall numbers for Selby were poor. He pitched in 21 games, with 5 being as an opener, logging 24.0 innings pitched. He walked 13.2% of batters faced, allowed 4 home runs (1.50 HR/9), and struck out 26.3% of opposing batters. Selby was hurt by a .293 opponent batting average, bunt a .395 batting average on balls in play indicates this number may have been a bit inflated. All of this led to Selby posting a 9.00 ERA but just a 4.80 FIP in his first taste of MLB action.
The recently turned 26-year-old throws a potentially elite slider. Last season, MLB batters hit just .192 off of Selby's slider. The pitch generated a very healthy 41.8% whiff rate while clocking in at an average of 88.4 MPH.
Selby threw his slider 36.4% of the time, but could probably benefit from an uptick in usage of the pitch. His sinker, which he threw 46.2% of the time, allowed a .395 batting average and opponents slugged .522 off the pitch. It's whiff rate was a woeful 16.3%.
He also throws a curveball that has plus potential. In the majors last season, Selby's curveball generated a 34.2% whiff rate while limiting opposing batters to a .241 avergae and .310 slugging percentage. However, he only threw the pitch 17.2% of the time.
So, an increase in slider and curveball use, especially the curveball, while throwing his slider less would likely to Selby a lot of good in 2024. Refining those pitches further while tweaking his usage repetoire needs to be Selby's top goal this offseason.
When spring training begins Selby will be comepting for a spot in the team's Opening Day bullpen. However, with offseason additions to the bullpen likely coming and Selby having minor league optiosn remaining while some others who will be in that compeition do not, he will likely start the season back with Indianapolis.
Even if Selby does start the 2024 season at Triple-A, it could still be a season in which he entrenches himself as a key cog in the Pirate bullpen. He will likely be one of the first arms, if not the first, the Pirates turn to when they need bullpen help next season. At that point, Selby will ahve the opportunity to pitch his way into a permanent role in the team's bullpen.