Reliever Dauri Moreta had a breakout season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2023. Let's take a look at changes he made that helped lead to his success.
The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Dauri Moreta from the Cincinnati Reds last year in a one-for-one swap with the Cincinnati Reds for infielder Kevin Newman. Moreta had a poor rookie season but had a breakout 2023 campaign. So, let’s take a look back at his season, how he performed, and what changes he made.
"Big Bank" Moreta had a 3.72 ERA, 2.93 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP in 58 innings. The right-hander had an outstanding 31.8% strikeout rate with a mediocre 10% walk rate. But he was also great at preventing hard contact and preventing home runs. Moreta was above the 85th percentile of both exit velocity (86.7 MPH) and hard-hit rate (33.1%) with an HR/9 of 0.62.
He did, however, have some injury issues during the middle of the season. He had a 1.80 ERA, 2.98 FIP, and 0.96 WHIP through the year's first two months. In June, he then allowed 10 earned runs in 10 innings. July saw him rebound as he allowed just 2 earned runs in 11 innings while only walking a single batter and striking out 17.
Moreta only appeared in four games in August before landing on the injured list. This lasted through mid-September but ended on an extremely high note, firing off seven perfect innings with 10 strikeouts in the final month of the year.
Moreta used his slider nearly 65% of the time last year, holding batters to just a .167 batting average, a .265 slugging percentage, and a .220 wOBA. When the Pirates acquired him last off-season, this was one change I pointed out as it was an extremely effective pitch last season. He used it just 24% of the time in 2022.
His fastball usage rate dropped significantly from 55.3% to 26.4%. While he only held opponents to a .222 batting average with this pitch, he also was hit hard for a .426 slugging percentage and .348 wOBA. Seven of the 21 extra-base hits he allowed came off his four-seamer.
His changeup was a significant portion of his arsenal in 2022, as he used it 20.7% of the time. But in 2023, it was used just 8.8% of the time in 2023. Moreta threw it a total of 85 times. Most of that usage was in the first half, too, as his change-up usage rate dropped to just 2.6% in July onward.
Moreta’s good breakout season and great end of the 2023 campaign sets him up for an extremely important role in 2024. He could see time as the team’s set-up man. Colin Holderman and Carmen Mlodzinski are currently projected to see most of the time in the seventh and/or eighth inning but don’t sleep on Moreta.