Pittsburgh Pirates: The Emergence of Ryan Borucki

Quietly, Ryan Borucki has emerged as a major bullpen piece for the Pirates

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates
Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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He's done it flying under the radar, but Ryan Borucki has emerged as a key piece in the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen

Since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in May, left-handed reliever Ryan Borucki has emerged as a major bullpen piece. He's appeared in 30 games, pitching 33.1 innings with a 2-0 record, along with his 2.97 ERA, 2.3% walk rate, and a 23.4% strikeout rate. Borucki has shown he can be a shutdown piece in the bullpen, similar to Colin Holderman, David Bednar, and others.

Since adding a sweeper to his pitch arsenal, it has been his most deadly pitch. He's only thrown it around 12.6% of the time, but it has been shutting down opponents with a .103 batting average against it. All of his pitches have been working well this season.

Last season with the Mariners, his slider wasn't good, but this season it has completely turned around. While it's not the best one in the league, it's still above average. His current pitch arsenal includes a slider, sinker, sweeper, and changeup. In the past, he had a curveball, but it wasn't effective enough to keep.

His 2023 season is different from 2022 because he added a sweeper and reduced the percentage of the time he used the sinker while using the slider at a career high. In 2022, he struggled with an expected batting average of .345 off the sinker, but this season, using it 21.0% of the time instead of 50.4%, he was able to use a better pitch that hitters struggled with more, which is the slider.

Due to Bednar, and thanks in large part to his fastball, there is a cap on Borucki's ceiling in the Pirate bullpen. Bednar uses his fastball 57.8% of the time, and has a batting average against of .183. While his other two pitches, the curveball, and splitter, aren't the most dominant, they don't have to be; they are just used to throw batters off. Bednar is also known for being one of the best pitchers at getting strikeouts by forcing the batters to chase the ball a lot.

While it's unlikely Borucki will ever become a closer with the Pirates, he is set to hit free agency following the 2024 season, so a possible trade could occur. Also, Bednar has been one of the best closers in MLB since joining the Pirates, and nothing will change his role.

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