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Statcast Heroes: Bullpen Offense, Paul Skenes, Braxton Ashcraft, Outfield Depth

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are 35-37 after winning two bullpen games in the last week, while getting reliable starts from their rotation. This week’s Statcast Heroes dives into those bullpen games, while looking at the depth out of Indianapolis, and a few standout performers in Single-A.

Hitting in Bullpen Games

Luis Ortiz and Josh Fleming get credit for allowing one run in nine innings combined across the two bullpen games last week. A big credit also goes to the offense for showing up big on those days.

The Pirates had bullpen games on June 14th and June 16th. Seven of the eight hardest hit balls this week came on those days. Five of the top ten furthest hits, including three of the top four, were also on those days.

It makes you wonder if the offense is forced into another gear when the pitching is short-handed. Those bullpen games have been total team effort in the absence of the starting role.

Paul Skenes Leads the Way

In his two starts over the last week, Paul Skenes combined for 32 whiffs. The rookie phenom has looked like an immediate guy who the Pirates can rely upon for innings. Following the two bullpen games in three days, Skenes went six innings with one run allowed on Monday.

The Reds started off the game by sitting on the fastball. Skenes quickly adjusted to his splinker and offspeed stuff leading the way. The splinker added nine of his 18 whiffs on the day, and the adjustment to the secondary stuff shut down the Reds.

Skenes had his usual triple-digit velocity this week, but it was less present with him focusing more on the secondary stuff.

Braxton Ashcraft Debuts in Triple-A

The Pirates are turning into a pitching factory. Skenes and Jared Jones have been huge boosts for the MLB rotation, due to their upper 90s fastballs and quality secondary stuff. Eventually, they might be joined by Braxton Ashcraft.

The rest of this post is for Pirates Prospects subscribers!

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
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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