Pittsburgh Pirates: Wil Crowe and Reasons for Concern
By Marty Leap
After a strong start to the 2022 season, Wil Crowe struggled in the season's final four months and has followed that up with a poor spring training. What red flags surround him entering the season?
During the first two months of the 2022 season it appeared that Wil Crowe was turning a corner as a relief pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, he struggled mightily in the four months that followed. With Crowe also struggling in Grapefruit League play, should fans be concerned about Crowe entering the regular season?
Crowe's first two months of the 2022 season made him looking like a budding high-leverage bullpen arm. He pitched 30.2 innings across the first two months of the season, allowing 18 hits and just two home runs as he posted a 2.35 ERA and 3.47 FIP. While he walked 10.7% of batters faced he countered that with a 24.6% strikeout rate.
From June 1st through the end of the season Crowe pitched 45.1 innings. Crowe posted a 5.76 ERA and a 4.88 FIP, while allowing 50 hits, six home runs, walking 12% of batters faced, and striking batters out at just a 18.1% clip.
During the first two months of the season Crowe limited opposing batters to just a 14.3% hard hit rate and a 18.7% line drive rate. During his struggles in the final four months these numbers jumped to a 28.8% hard hit rate and a 19.2% line drive rate.
A big issue for Crowe was poor command. His command issues went deeper than a walk rate that rose by 1.5%. As his Baseball Savant page shows, he also put far too many pitches in the strike zone where hitters could make quality contact and drive them. This undoubtedly played a role in the increase in hits and home runs allowed by Crowe.
Command and location issues have continued in the spring for Crowe. He has pitched 7.0 innings in Grapefruit League play, allowing 8 earned runs (9.00 ERA) on 13 hits, four walks, three home runs, and eight strikeouts.
With Crowe's struggles with his command, location, and allowing too much hard contact continuing this spring, there is plenty of reason for concern with Crowe as the regular season approaches. With the Pirate bullpen filled with question marks and uncertainty the team needs Crowe to pitch the way he did in the first two months of the 2022 season. However, there may be little reason to believe this will happen. If Crowe struggles then the Pirate bullpen as a whole could be impacted negatively and in a big way.