JT Brubaker Discusses the Short Memory Needed in the Majors

ST. PETERSBURG – Between his time in college and his time in the minors, JT Brubaker earned a reputation as a big game pitcher.

Opening day starts. Championship games.

Now, he finds himself in the majors, where every game is a big game.

This is Brubaker’s third year as a starter in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rotation. In 15 starts so far, he has a 4.14 ERA, which is the best mark of his career, and in line with his career xFIP.

While covering the Pirates/Rays series last weekend, I had a chance to see Brubaker put up a quality start, giving up three runs in six innings. Brubaker did a great job of limiting damage and preventing things from spiraling out of control.

That’s what you’d expect from someone who showed a calm demeanor in the highest pressure situations in the minors.

“It’s short memory, and then its on to the next pitch,” Brubaker said of that “big game” ability. “I’ve always had to bring myself back, and not get too far ahead on a hitter, on how many pitches ahead I need to be.”

Brubaker gave the example of wanting to put a hitter away with a slider. Rather than focusing on the slider at the end of the plan, Brubaker almost forgets the slider, and focuses on each individual offering.

“I’ve got to focus on that one pitch, and then force him to make a decision,” said Brubaker. “And then if I do get to two strikes, I can go to the slider, or whatever I want to go to. It’s really moment by moment.”

Brubaker has had a few difficult outings this year, but he’s largely been consistent, going five or more innings on a routine basis. Some of those outings had him bouncing back from bad innings to quickly forget and give the Pirates a few more frames.

That is the type of starter you want filling out a rotation. Someone who will give you top of the rotation starts on a regular basis, and who also won’t blow up your bullpen when he has a bad outing.

In each case, Brubaker works with a short memory, and trust in his stuff.

“Really what it is, is you trusting your stuff. That’s what it comes down to,” said Brubaker. “Trust that the ball is going to do what the ball is supposed to do.”


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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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The Pirates have had very good success with drafting some small college pitchers and developing them into valuable 4, 5 SP’s in the Rotation. Chad Kuhl out of Delaware was one, and now JT Brubaker out of Akron.

In 2022 he has shown an increase in the percentage of balls classified as soft and medium contact over 2021. In 2021, his first full year as a SP his soft contact was 16.1% and medium 48.8%. In 2022 they are up to soft of 17.1% and Medium up to 54%. Balls hard hit are down accordingly from 35.6% in 2021 to 29% in 2022. Definitely somebody moving in the right direction.

Averaging 5+ innings per start in 40 starts the last 2 years – 24 Starts in 2021 and 16 Starts so far in 2022. A valuable innings eater.


That’s sports (and life) in a nutshell – learn from the good and bad, keep moving forward.


He’s solid and good to have on the team.

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