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Friday, December 9, 2022

Beau Sulser shows improved effectiveness as a reliever

The 2021 campaign was a very interesting one for Beau Sulser.

He started the season in the Pirates organization, and ended it with them. However, there was a bit of a journey along the way.

On April 26, Sulser made his Major League debut with Pittsburgh. After appearing in four games in relief for the Pirates, Sulser was designated for assignment when the Pirates claimed Tyler Beede on May 12. Sulser was claimed by Baltimore shortly after. He was re-acquired by the Pirates after being DFA’d by the Orioles near the end of the season.

Overall, Sulser had a solid season in the big leagues. In 10 games and 22.1 innings, Sulser allowed 24 hits and nine earned runs. After seeing some time as a reliever early in his minor league career, Sulser made his return to the bullpen this year. The move came after struggles at Triple-A last season as a starter.

“The transition to the bullpen wasn’t so bad for me because that is what I did for the first three years of my career,” Sulser said. “The only hard part is the recovery time. The last half of Double-A in 2019, we didn’t have a season in 2020, then all of 2021, I only started, going back to having two days down between an outing. I just focus on the recovery aspect.”

In 2021, Sulser posted a 5.65 ERA in 26 games, while allowing 150 hits in 122.2 innings with Indianapolis. He also walked 53, while striking out 102. His 1.66 WHIP was the highest of his career. He saw some success early with Indianapolis this season as a starter, but the weather was very pitcher friendly then. Simply, Sulser needed a change and took advantage of his bullpen opportunity

Sulser has seen plenty of chances to both start and relieve. When comparing the two, he sees them as very similar and tries to take the same approach regardless.

“Coming out of the bullpen pitching isn’t much different,” Sulser said. “You try to come out and give them your best stuff right away. As a starter, I tried to make that what I did as well. I would get into trouble when I try to save my best pitches for the third or fourth inning, then it is a bad outing.”

When comparing the two roles, Sulser is a realist and understands where his best opportunity to see sustained success lies.

“I think I like the bullpen better,” Sulser said. “I just like the opportunity to throw all of the time. I like the starter role, but I think that I can have a lot more success at this level as a reliever, seeing the lineup once or maybe twice through. There is a lot of data that supports that. Me being a strike-thrower, with nothing that jumps of the page, in terms of throwing 97 or an absolutely wipe out slider, my pitchability helps me get through once or twice through the lineup. If they see me a third time, it starts to get harder and that realization is fine. It gives me a better opportunity to stay in the [big leagues] and have some success.”

While it is unclear whether Sulser will stick on the 40-man, or the Pirates will try to slip him through waivers this offseason, his familiar face has returned. As Sulser pointed out, his best chance for success in the big leagues is as a long reliever, based on what he is working with. This past season was a step in the right direction and should supply some confidence moving forward.

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Beau Sulser shows improved effectiveness as a reliever – READING

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Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.

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