Pittsburgh Pirates: Johan Oviedo Should Take Advantage of Breaking Pitches

Pittsburgh Pirates v St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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Right-hander Johan Oviedo is lined up for a potential breakout season in 2023 and can do so by taking advantage of his two breaking pitches

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired a young pitcher at the trade deadline, that being Johan Oviedo from the St. Louis Cardinals. A former top prospect in the Cards’ system, the right-hander topped out as a top ten prospect in their system. Oviedo was mostly known for his fastball, which is a good pitch. He averages out in the mid-90s with spin that was in the 60th percentile last year. But Oviedo should take advantage of his two breaking balls.

The primary breaking pitch in Oviedo’s arsenal is his slider. Oviedo’s slider had -8 run value last year, making it the 29th most valuable of its kind last year. Batters had a tough time against his slider. Oviedo held opponents to a .216 average, a .343 slugging percentage, and a .302 wOBA. He also got batters to whiff at a 33.8% rate at the pitch.

Overall, Oviedo used the pitch 40.3% of the time, making it his second most-used offering by nearly 30%. He typically sits in the mid-80s with over 2500 RPM of spin. The right-hander’s slider was a good pitch, but his curveball was even better in terms of results. He only had a -1 run value, but he used it just 10.7% of the time. But opponents had a .111 average and slugging percentage. Oviedo didn’t have as high of a whiff rate with his curveball compared to his slider, but it’s still been a highly effective pitch. Overall, he’s only had a .205 wOBA with the pitch.

Both offerings have kept opponents to soft contact as well. His slider had just a 30% hard-hit rate, which was the 42nd best among pitchers who used their slider against 100+ batters. His curveball was even better, holding opponents to a 25% hard-hit rate. He only used it against 20 batters, but had he used it against 100+ opponents, he would have ranked top ten in hard-hit rate with a curveball. Oviedo averages out in the upper-70s and throws the pitch with just over 2400 RPM.

Oviedo is entering his age-25 season. The right-hander is looking to secure a rotation spot in Spring Training and get an extended look in the bigs. He looked great in September and could be a key part of the Pirates’ rotation for years to come. Even with all the young talent between Priester, Burrows, Nicolas, and Ortiz, the Pirates will look to give Oviedo a shot before their arrival.

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