Rum Bunter Staff Predictions for the 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates: Brenden Zielinski
Most Surprising Player - Dauri Moreta
After being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in the Kevin Newman trade, some fans were disappointed that the Pirates only got a 26-old-reliever who was coming off a dreadful 5.40 ERA in 2022. However, as time has moved on, the fans seem to be growing on Moreta after a solid spring training, where he posted a 2.79 ERA, struck out 13 batters, only walked one, and a 1.13 WHIP across 9.2 innings pitched out of the bullpen.
Looking deeper into his numbers last season, Moreta struggled in the first half, posting a 7.09 ERA before being optioned to Triple-A. After being optioned and recalled to the majors, Moreta improved significantly in the second half of the season, posting a 1.54ERA across 11 innings with the Reds. Moreta's biggest issues were giving up the long ball, after allowing 10 home runs (most of which were at the start of the season) and control issues at times. After watching him pitch this spring, he looks like a completely different pitcher!
Moreta's slider was arguably his best pitch last season, after holding opponents to an impressively low .103 batting average, .207 slugging percentage, and it had a 48.9% whiff rate, which left batters swinging out of their shoes! His 95+ mph fastball wasn't anything to scoff at either, holding batters to just a .190 batting average and a 26% whiff rate.
Due to injuries to Jarlin Garcia and Robert Stephenson, all signs are pointing to Moreta squeezing out a bullpen spot to start off the 2023 season. With Moreta joining the Pirates, I wouldn't be surprised if he has an extremely underrated season out of the bullpen and has a breakout season.