Over the previous two seasons-2019 and 2020-Steven Brault, when healthy, was the second best starter in the rotation; totaling 1.9 fWAR behind only Joe Musgrove (4.2), while posting a 4.23 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. At times Brault showed brilliance on the mound, as the self proclaimed pitching machine, as evidenced by his 2 hit, 8 strike out complete game against the Cardinals in his second to last start in 2020. Other times he would absolutely wear one, like he did in 2019 when he gave up 10 runs on 8 hits-5 of them for homers-in less than 3 innings against the Cubs.
Banished to the bullpen, and even optioned to Indianapolis in the beginning of 2019 as he was fighting for the fifth starters spot with Nick Kingham, Brault became a shining star for Pittsburgh on the mound and with the microphone; singing the National Anthem before Pirates game on a semi-regular basis. However, for all his fight, and charisma, he has regularly fallen victim to injury; hence the caveat, when healthy. Since becoming a regular member of the rotation in 2019 Brault has started 36 games and pitched a total of 166 innings; which is still behind two pitchers-Joe Musgrove and Trevor Williams-who weren’t even on the team this season.
Nevertheless, there was always the hope that he could become that veteran presence in the rotation; especially after his career best 3.38 ERA last year. But unfortunately, the injuries would always come; just like they did the past two Spring Trainings, and just like after two innings pitched last night when he was removed from the game with left arm discomfort.
Luckily for the Pirates, their bullpen was up to the challenge-one they have been forced to face more times than they probably care to remember-starting with Cody Ponce’s 3 scoreless frames, and capped off by Chad Kuhl’s no-hit ninth; which ended up putting him in line for the win when Ke’Bryan Hayes eventually walked it off for a 4-3 victory in the bottom of the 9th.
News and Notes
- Ke’Bryan Hayes has reached base safely in 13 out of his last 14 games. Over his last thirty he is batting .270, but only has a .688 OPS as most of his hits have been of the base knock variety and his walks have been limited. However, this is still a drastic improvement over another 30 game stretch, from the end of June to the beginning of August, where he was batting .202 and accumulated a .556 OPS. Finishing out the season on a high note is extremely important for individual players like Hayes.
- As a team, the Pirates only struck out one time, while also only drawing 3 free passes and going 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Sometimes, you have to take the good with the bad.
- Over his last seven games Anthony Alford is batting .280 with 4 homers. However, since coming back up from Indianapolis, he is still striking out at a 34.1% clip while walking only 4.5% of the time. It truly is all or nothing with Alford’s swing at this point. Here is an example of the all.
- During the previous day the Pirates put out a video homage to the Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 Draft Class. The production was first class, and the message was one of inspiration and hope for the future. However, for me the actual release of it was ill-timed. It has been two full months since the draft, the Pirates #1 overall pick Henry Davis is on the shelf for the remainder of the Minor League Baseball Season and there are pictures and articles circulating the internet concerning attendance; especially from the Pirates series finale against the Tigers from just a few days before, when Pittsburgh former top prospect and once touted “ace of the future” got hit all over the place by Miguel Cabrera and Company.
- And of course Josh Bell hit a homer in his return to PNC Park.
The Pirates and Nationals are back at it again today at 6:35 PM EST at PNC Park.
For Pittsburgh, Wil Crowe (3-7, 5.94 ERA) toes the rubber against former Dodgers Top Prospect-acquired in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner Trade-Josiah Gray (0-2, 5.65 ERA) for Washington.