Following a strong 2022 season Chase De Jong has reverted back to his career norm and become the worst pitcher on the Pittsburgh Pirates roster
With Luis Ortiz set to toe the rubber and make his 2023 debut on Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates will need to make a roster move. While Ortiz is already in Pittsburgh, he has yet to officially join the active roster.
The move to make room for Ortiz should be a no brainer. Chase De Jong should be designated for assignment and removed from the team's bullpen. Unfortunately, it does not appear that this will be the move as rookie Cody Bolton was seen cleaning out his locker in the Pirate clubhouse following Monday night's victory.
Keeping De Jong around makes zero sense. It feels like a move that would be made simply because De Jong is out of minor league options so he would have to be designated for assignment instead of being optioned to the minors. At times making that choice can be the correct one, but this is not one of those instances.
No matter how you want to slice it, De Jong has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season. Through 9.1 innings pitched he's allowed 13 hits, 3 home runs, has walked 10.6% of batters faced, and struck out just 10.6%. This has led to him posting a 10.61 ERA and an 8.39 FIP. Among relievers with at least 9 innings pitched this season, De Jong's ERA is the 4th worst in all of baseball.
Opposing batters own an average exit velocity of 89.7 MPH off of De Jong, a barrel rate of 11.1%, and a hard hit rate of 36.1%. All of these numbers are worse than league average. His strikeout rate is in the bottom 2% of baseball and his chase rate is in the bottom 1%.
De Jong's stuff simply is not good enough to get legitimate MLB hitters out. It does not generate chases or swing-and-misses. Due to this, De Jong does not have the tools required to be a successful MLB pitcher.
There is no reason for De Jong to stick around in teh Pirate bullpen, even as a long reliever/mop up man. Bolton, who appears to be on his way out, is a former top pitching prospect who has pitched very well since moving to a full-time bullpen role.
2020 compensatory first-round draft pick Carmen Mlodzinski has also found success at Triple-A since moving to a full-time bullpen role. Giving De Jong's spot to Mlodzinski would also be more beneficial to the Pirates both now and in the future.
At this point De Jong serves absolutely no purpose for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He can not be trusted to pitch in any scenario other than a mop up role. Giving those innings to a young arm such as Bolton or Mlodzinski as developmental innings makes a lot more sense for the Pirates, not to mention that those arms would be more effective MLB pitchers right now than De Jong is.