Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Pitchers to Watch in 2024 Based on Stuff+

Stuff+ is a new statistic that measures how good a pitcher's pitch metrics were, so who are some potential Pirates players to watch based on that?
Sep 5, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Hunter Stratton (63)
Sep 5, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Hunter Stratton (63) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Jackson Wolf

The Pirates acquired left-handed pitching prospect Jackson Wolf last trade deadline. You wouldn’t think that a guy who averages 88-90 MPH would be on a list like this. Stratton and Selby are hard throwers. But in Jackson Wolf’s lone MLB start, he registered a stuff+ of 117. All three of the offerings he used registered as above average. That ranged from 107 at worst to 132 at best. That’s only 1% worse than David Bednar and 1% better than San Francisco flamethrower Camilo Doval.

Once you dig into some of his pitch metrics, you can kind of see why he is so highly regarded in the eyes of stuff+. He may only sit 88-90 MPH with 2108 RPM on his fastball, but with an active spin rate of 96%, he throws his four-seamer with above-average vertical and horizontal break. With 12.9 inches of horizontal movement, Wolf would have been among the top 20 fastballs had he thrown enough to qualify. Overall, Wolf’s fastball sat at 107 in stuff+.

Both his slider and changeup have slightly below-average movement, but they were even nastier per stuff+ than his fastball, which arguably had better qualities. However, that’s probably because of his release point. Wolf’s extension comes out to about seven and a half feet, making his velocity way up. The second reason is because of his side-arm-like arm slot, which sat around five feet. The lefty also had just a 2.91-foot horizontal release point. Wolf’s slider had a 120 stuff+ rate, while his change-up clocked in at 132.

Overall, Wolf pitched well in Double-A, working to a 4.13 ERA, 4.02 FIP, and 1.11 WHIP. He held opponents to a .226 batting average while striking them out at a 26.8% rate. His 1.23 HR/9 was slightly below average, but he also was great at limiting walks with a 6.4% walk rate. But there was one start where he allowed eight earned runs in just 3.1 innings. Outside of this one game, he had an ERA of just 3.65 while his WHIP would drop to 1.04, and both his strikeout and walk rate would move in the right direction to 27.7% and 6.2%, respectively. Wolf also struggled through his final four starts of the season. Going into August 30th, he had a 3.81 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP with a strikeout rate approaching 30% (29.3%) and a sub-7% walk rate (6.6%).

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