The Pittsburgh Pirates and veteran left-handed pitcher Ryan Borucki have agreed to a minor league deal
The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a deal with veteran left-hander Ryan Borucki. The deal is only a minor league pact, so he will likely report to Triple-A. Borucki opened the year with the Chicago Cubs. However, he was never promoted to the big leagues or added to their 40-man roster, so he decided to opt out once his opt out date came around.
Borucki at one point looked like he coud be a major cog in the Toronot Blue Jay rotation. In his 2018 rookie campaign, the southpaw worked to a 3.87 ERA, 3.79 FIP, and 1.32 WHIP across 97.2 innings. Although his strikeout raet came in at an unimpressive 16% rate, he had a quality 8% walk rate and 0.65 HR/9. He also turned in a hard hit rate of 33.2% (top 68th percentile) and 88.3 MPH exit velocity (50th percentile).
Borucki however missed most of the 2019 season because of injuries. He returned in 2020 to a bullpen role where he allowed just five earned runs in 16.2 innings, striking out 21, and letting just one home run. His 94.8 MPH sinker velocity was a major increase from 2018 when same pitch came in at around 91.5 MPH. However, control became a major issue for the left-hander. His walk rate soared to 16.4%.
Borucki has pitched sparsley over the last two seasons. He has combined for just 49 innings in '21-'22, working to a poor 5.33 ERA, 5.87 FIP, and 1.31 WHIP. His 20.1% strikeout rate and 10.5% walk rate are both mediocre, however it's been home runs that have killed Borucki.
On average, he allows 2.02 home runs every nine innings pitched. Although his 88.6 MPH exit velocity isn't much different from 2018, his hard hit rate now sits at 41.5% while his barrel rate is 9.2% (compared to 5.4% his rookie season).
Now in his age-29 season, Borucki pitched nine innings for the Cub Triple-A affiliate, allowing 12 earned runs, six walks, and striking out 11. In total, he allowed 13 hits. Of those 13 hits, one left the ballpark. He has yet to appear in a major league game this year.
It's not likely the Pirates expect Borucki to play any greater role than organizational depth. The left-hander is nearly six seasons removed from his quality rookie season. However, he is a hard-throwing sinkerball pitcher, and the Pirates have had some luck in turning those kind of pitchers around. Plus the Pirates have very little in the way of left-handed relief pitching depth.