It’s been an interesting few years in the majors for JT Brubaker since making his debut back in 2020. He’s flashed obvious skill that could make him a mainstay in a major league rotation, but always left you wanting more.
The basic counting stats had a rough look to them at times, but the advanced metrics always showed the potential that there was more there.
In what will be his third full season in the majors, Brubaker is looking to put it all together. If spring has been any indication of what is capable of, this could be the year.
He had a rough first inning in his spring debut on February 27, but since then has really hit his groove. Although he surrendered another home run on Friday, it looked like wind aided it a bit, and it just snuck inside the foul pole.
Brubaker’s breaking pitches have been fantastic early, creating some insane swing and miss numbers.
In three spring starts, hitters have swung at 38 of his breaking pitches. They have missed half of them (19). His March 5 outing saw him pick up seven whiffs on 11 swings with his slider. This past start he posted his lowest rate at just 33.3%.
JT Brubaker has an overall whiff rate of 37.5% (27/72) in three appearances this spring. His slider is at 50% whiff. Here are his from Friday + the changeup that was apparently fouled by Brandon Marsh but looked like he missed. I'll have more on him in the morning #Pirates pic.twitter.com/yVAkTRpOcp
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) March 11, 2023
Even his sinker has put in a 21.8% whiff rate, which isn’t great, but him only getting one miss in 13 swings on Friday really brought it down.
Although he didn’t generate a lot of whiffs with the sinker, it doesn’t mean he didn’t keep the hitters off balance. Brubaker threw eight called strikes with the pitch on Friday, striking out multiple hitters looking with it.
In total, Brubaker has posted a 32.8% called strike plus whiff rate, having a total of 53 (27 whiffs, 21 called strikes) across his 143 pitches.
Brubaker didn't get a lot of swing and miss with the sinker today, but did have eight called strikes with it. Overall in spring his called strikes + whiff rate is 37% #Pirates pic.twitter.com/lvKJevxmYa
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) March 11, 2023
Even if at this point his upside isn’t the highest, Brubaker has shown he has the makings of a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter. No Pirate has thrown more innings since 2020 than Brubaker, and he is now part of a rotation that could be one of the strengths of the team.
He’ll have to keep the home runs down, but he has done well keeping pitches down so far this spring. With this swing and miss, he could very much challenge Mitch Keller as one of the best starting pitchers on the team, and establish himself as a mainstay in a rotation that will have a few prospects knocking on the door this season.
Pirates Prospects Daily
By John Dreker
**Pirates Minor League Spring Training Schedule I had a few people write me for the minor league ST schedule, so thank them for this article.
**Pirates DVR: Endy Rodriguez Double, Drew Maggi Home Run, Carmen Mlodzinski
**Spring Training Recap: Phillies 10, Pirates 4
**World Baseball Classic Recap: Three Pirates Pitchers See Exhibition Game Action
**Pirates Prospects Daily: Endy Rodriguez Continues To Impress During Spring In case you missed it from yesterday
Song of the Day
Ke’Bryan Hayes has been dealing with a minor thumb issue, but he’s back in the lineup. Pirates are at home against the New York Yankees. Televised game, 1:05 PM start
The squad vs. the Yankees.
📺 AT&T SportsNet#LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/LRAJN2flCX
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) March 11, 2023
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.
Don’t look at Blake Sabol’s spring people. Especially todays line. Just don’t look.
To let a guy with a bat get away when you don’t have many bats seems foolish.
Mldzinski is going to break camp with the big league club
Looked Great today.
takes Stephenson´s spot
You realized that the yanks fielded a traveling team that only has one starter in Donaldson, one back up in Falefa, and one possible rookie starter in Pereza.
Nice win for your boys today! 1-0.
I would bleach my hair blonde…..if I had any!
If they advance, hint: wig shop!
What do you mean if? 😇
Venezuela upset DR, they want PR tonite!
If Hayes keeps lifting and or pulling the ball and Cruz keeps his K under 28% we might see a 8-10 fwar from the left side of the infield!
I want what that man’s smoking
is legal now!
Here in Montana it is
KeByran has been cleared for lift off.
KeBryan Bryan back to back.
Nats sign Ruiz (C) to 8 yr/$50M. Very interesting extension. I can’t decide if I like it or hate it. Leaning towards dislike.
Lot of wear and tear on catchers. (Same applies to Endy). And he’s a very mediocre catcher at that, both defensively and offensively. What’s the point? Team’s for sale, Rizzo’s not going to survive new ownership.
10) Connor Joe……………..90%……80%
11) Tyler Heineman………..60%……60%
12) Ji-Hwan Bae……………60%……50%
13) Travis Swaggerty……..30%……50%
14) Chris Owings…………..50%……40%
15) Kevin Plawecki………..40%……40%
16) Mark Mathias…………..n/a……..30%
17) Cal Mitchell……………..40%……30%
18) Canaan Smith-Njigba..30%……30%
19) Tucupita Marcano…….30%……20%
20) Jared Triolo…………….30%……10%
21) Miguel Andujar…………10%……10%
22) Ryan Vilade…………….10%……10%
23) Jason Delay…………….10%……10%
24) Drew Maggi………………5%……..5%
Could Swaggerty push Joe off the roster? Maybe. More likely he pushes Owings or Bae off the roster. Nothing seems to have changed in the backup catcher battle. I’m not as high on Mathias as some are–see him as AAA fodder. Triolo is the biggest dropper. Seems destined for AAA, which is fine.
bigger question is if Swaggerty makes the roster, who does he take playing time away from? The only way he breaks camp is if he is the starting centerfielder – a bench role does not make any sense.
Swaggerty´s defense in center field justifies his presence in the lineup but at whose expense? Choi so Cutch DH´s and Suwinski in right field? One of those three dudes losing playing time if Swggerty breaks camp
the answer to that question is that we should trade Reynolds
Not sure how to start a thread, but I was bummed about the DeVito news; I was really looking forward to him as a darkhorse breakout candidate.
That closes the book on the Rich Rod returns. Unless Mathias makes the 26 man.
Rodriguez stunk after the trade, so a somewhat even trade.
I’m looking for Mathias today……you know, our new Utility guy BC just traded for…..smh.
there is nothing new here
he´s great until the top of the 5th and then it all unravels with homeruns so a fireman can´t even leave men on base for him
this guy is a bum and we´re better off without him
To whom do you refer?
Lazy analysis. Very lazy. He has all the pieces. You’re way to results oriented in your thinking.
The problem is he is also very hittable…
That’s just not true. His BABIP last year was incredibly unlucky. Or our outfield just sucked. .330. Brubaker has all the pieces. Put him in a team with a defense and he is above league average.
J T = Charlie Morton.2 ???
But can he also play a guitar?
Now that’s a baseball song
Good day on the site! Bru’s going to put it together this year, and Gladys knight, too!
JT has always shown flashes. If he really does well, that would be great.
Put some bats in the lineup and he’ll be a solid major league pitcher. It’s a hard enough game without knowing that it only takes a couple bad pitches and you’ve lost because you’re not going to get any run support. You pitch differently when you know you can give up 3-4 runs and still keep your team in the game.
Consistency is the key for him. Consistency from start to start. Consistency from inning to inning even. Seems I recall several of his starts would be undone by one bad inning. Usually featuring a gopher ball or two.
I’m cautiously optimistic he’s going to have a Mitch Keller type breakout season this year. His stuff looks very sharp this Spring.
Obviously those videos are cherry picked pitches to show but he hit his spot on just about every pitch in them. That to me is a huge part of the difference between a back-end/swingman pitcher and a stable mid-rotation pitcher. Doubt Brubaker is ever going to be running huge K numbers across a whole season but if he commands what he has that will play well enough to give the team a chance to win on most nights.
Better defense will help too. He has a career 3.96 FIP. A full run below his era. This is what a Swaggerty in center is for. It matters. He is a fly ball guy we need to catch the fly balls.