Pittsburgh Pirates: Low-Risk/High-Reward Pitchers To Pursue Based On Stuff+

The Pirates should look into these low-risk/high-reward pitchers as they ranked highly in the eyes of Stuff+
Aug 25, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (14)
Aug 25, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (14) / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Jakob Junis

Jakob Junis has worked as a swingman out of the San Francisco Giants' staff for the last two seasons. His numbers are decent, but his underlying stuff is even better. This is another guy the Pirates would be smart about bringing in to fill out the bullpen as their go-to multi-inning guy or spot starter. 

Junis pitched 86 innings in 40 games and four starts. Over half of his games lasted two or more innings. Throughout the innings he pitched, Junis had a solid 3.87 ERA, 3.74 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP. This was a career year for Junis. He struck out 26.2% of the batters he faced, with a walk rate of just 5.7%. His 4.57 K:BB ratio was the 10th best among all pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched. Junis did struggle some with home runs with a 1.33 HR/9, but he was above average in exit velocity (88.5 MPH) and hard-hit rate (35.4%) with an unimpressive barrel rate (8.2%).

All the underlying numbers pointed to Junis having some room for improvement. The right-hander had a 3.66 xFIP, 3.36 SIERA, and an 85 DRA- (92 ERA-). Those are all slightly better than his 3.87 ERA he pitched to in 2023. He could definitely pitch to a 3.50 ERA next season.

Junis threw three pitches with regularity in 2023. That included his slider, sinker, and change-up. All had above-average vertical drop. But in terms of horizontal break, his slider was well above average at 13.1 inches. Junis ranked 25th in slider horizontal break. He does not throw hard, as his sinker averaged 93.7 MPH. Stuff+ put Junis at 113.

Junis is a good pitcher flying under the radar. There are no rumors about his market. Sure, a long-relief/spot-starter role is less glamorous than someone who consistently pitches the 8th/9th inning and is given the highest leverage innings out of the pen, but Junis pitched 86 innings last year with an above-average ERA.