Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Promising Small Sample Size Statistics From The First Week Of The Season

Chicago White Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates
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Dauri Moreta
57% Slider Usage Rate

Many were skeptical of what Dauri Moreta was bringing to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs acquired him in the one-for-one swap for infielder Kevin Newman. Although Moreta had a solid 24.4% K-rate and 8.1% walk rate, the right-handed reliever had both an ERA and FIP above 5.00 and surrendered ten home runs in just 38.1 innings, leading to an HR/9 of 2.35.

Moreta was in drastic need of changing things up heading into 2023, and he has. The right-hander has used his breaking offering, a slider, much more often than in 2022. Currently, he sits at a 57% usage rate, a 33% uptick from last season. Moreta's slider was one of the best in the league in 2022. Opponents owned a horrendous .103 batting average, .207 slugging percentage, and .200 wOBA with a 48.9% whiff rate against it.

Because of his massive increase in slider usage, his fastball's use has significantly dropped, from 53.3% to just 23.3%. While opponents couldn't touch Moreta's slider, his fastball was not good, to say the least. They owned a .278 BA, .582 slugging, and .401 wOBA against it. The difference in terms of wOBA between his fastball and slider in 2022 was about the same as Julio Urias in 2021 (the LA Dodgers' left-handed starting pitcher) and 2022 second baseman Silver Slugger recipient Jose Altuve in 2022.

The increased usage of his slider could also help his fastball play-up, depending on how Moreta mixes up and locates his breaking ball and changeup. So far, he's been handling some really late and close games, so it's nice to see the Pirates potentially finding a decent reliever. That's something the bullpen desperately needs.