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Pirates Prospects Daily: Pirates Showing They May Have A ‘Type’ Of Pitcher

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It’s starting to become more clear on the type of pitcher the Pirates are looking to acquire. As the offseason continues, the rumors continue to swirl as to where free agents will sign. One such recent to come around for the Pirates, is right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson.

The 35-year-old Gibson is coming off a little bit of a down year, although he still managed to make 31 starts and throw 167.2 innings — both of which were more than any other Pirates pitcher finished with in 2022.

On the outside it looks like your typical Pirates reclamation project, and to an extent he is. There is another trend in their reported interest in Gibson, as well how their current pitching staff is made up.

One of the bigger headlines over this past season was Mitch Keller, and his emergence as a legitimate major league starting pitcher. Maybe the biggest reason for his turnaround was his usage of a sinker to help give a different look from the mound.

Keller wasn’t alone, as there were multiple pitchers who excelled throwing the sinker. According to Baseball Savant, the Pirates had seven pitchers in the Top 100 when it comes to Sinker Run Value, led by reliever Yohan Ramirez at 14th. Keller finished just behind Ramirez at 25. Other Pirates who ranked inside the top 100: Dillon Peters (34), JT Brubaker (50), Zach Thompson (78), and Bryse Wilson (98).

Yerry De Los Santos and Duane Underwood Jr. both finished within the next 50 names, giving the Pirates nine total players with a positive run value with the sinker.

Circling back to Gibson, he was among the league leaders last year when it comes to the pitch, with Baseball Savant having him at 770 sinkers (28.1%) in 2022.

Despite it being his most used pitch, I wouldn’t say it has been his best pitch. Both Keller and Gibson allowed hitters to bat just north of .300 against the sinker last year, with near identical wOBA (.369 for Gibson, .367 with Keller) but being able to show it and throw it for strikes, it set up the rest of their pitches to be a bit more effective.

Throwing the sinker so much set up Gibson’s cutter (.244 average, .306 wOBA) and slider (.221 average, .281 wOBA) — the latter of which he was able to put up a fairly good whiff rate for a non strikeout pitcher.

Keller was the same way, with his slider a lot more effective (.206 average, .264 wOBA) thanks to the sinker. Even his fastball became more effective in the right situation having the different look of the sinker.

The Pirates seem to be in the market for at least one starter for their rotation, with Gibson being the name talked about as of late. If the interest in signing him is true, then it obviously shows that the Pirates have a ‘type’ more than a soft tossing lefty reclamation project, like they’ve gone after the previous two seasons.

The success has been there, and with a defense that includes Ke’Bryan Hayes and the arm of Oneil Cruz, it’s not a surprise that the Pirates would want to trend that way — now and in the future.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**The Pirates made their signing of Carlos Santana official. As of this posting, the team has yet to make a corresponding 40-man roster move. That’s unusual that the process has taken this long. It doesn’t seem like your typical “let’s pick which player to designate for assignment” corresponding move. We’ll keep you updated, but for now, Santana is officially on the 2023 Pirates, which is the important thing.

**Our article drop this week looked at the potential impacts for the Pirates of the removal of defensive shifts. I focused on both offense and defense, and Anthony Murphy had a feature on Braxton Ashcraft.

**The Rule 5 draft will take place next week. Baseball America released their best available players in the draft, and the Pirates had Malcom Nunez and Matt Gorski listed.

**Oneil Cruz, Lewin Diaz, and Miguel Andujar saw winter league action on Monday. John Dreker has the latest winter league updates.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at the next steps in Luis Ortiz’s development.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

In our article drop today, I looked at the potential impacts of the removal of defensive shifts in 2023. On defense, the addition of Santana will pair nicely with Ke’Bryan Hayes to shrink the middle infield — and that will play well for Oneil Cruz and likely Rodolfo Castro. On offense, I looked at the mental toll of the defensive shifts on a hitter.

Anthony Murphy looked at Braxton Ashcraft, a right-handed prep pitcher from the 2018 draft who is returning from Tommy John.

Wednesday is our opinion day, and we’ve got multiple features hitting the site at noon.

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Anthony Murphy
Anthony Murphy
Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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