It Is Time to Give Pirates' Pitching Coach Oscar Marin Some Credit

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Despite their record, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching is performing well given the personnel. Credit should be given to pitching coach, Oscar Marin.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are losing, and losing a lot.  They are statistically the worst offensive team in baseball, and it's showing with their 40-57 record.  It also shows in their -142 run differential, good for second to last in all of Major League Baseball.  However, you can see in my recent midseason grades of both the position players and the pitching staff, the pitching staff is not to blame.

The Pirates currently have three above average starting pitchers.  Jose Quintana, Mitch Keller, and JT Brubaker.  Each are pitching very well as of late.  I also believe each of these three, among others, are why Pirates pitching coach Oscar Marin should begin getting some credit from Pirate fans.

Quintana is another successful reclamation project for Marin.  Quintana was signed for the same reason Tyler Anderson was signed last season: to be a trade piece come the deadline.  And it's worked again.  

Anderson was signed to a one-year deal by the Pirates prior to the 2021 season.  He pitched well enough for the Pirates to garner interest from at least two teams.  First, it was reported he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, but later ended up with the Seattle Mariners.  Anderson's reclamation, with the help of Marin, eventually turned into an All-Star Game appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers this season.  The first feather in Marin's cap.

Quintana was also signed, this offseason, to a one-year deal by the Pirates.  His 3.70 ERA in 19 starts this season is reportedly garnering a lot of attention on the market.  Prior to the 2022 season, Quintana hadn't finished a season with a sub- 4.00 ERA since 2016.  Obviously the season isn't over yet, but Quintana looks to at least have his best season since 2018 with the Chicago Cubs.  With another successful reclamation, I can't help but think Marin had something to do with it.  Feather No. 2.

Then there's the newfound successes of both Mitch Keller and JT Brubaker.  Neither can really be considered reclamation projects since neither have had much prior success to reclaim before this season.  After last night's start, Brubaker has an ERA under 4, and has looked fantastic as of late.  In his last 14 starts, he's given up just 30 earned runs, and has struck out 80 batters in 79.2 innings pitched.  This is great work for a 28-year-old who only has one full major league season under his belt.

We also saw Mitch Keller add a pitch to his repertoire midseason, which has to in some way be attributed to Marin.  I can't imagine Keller added a sinker in the middle of his career without running it by the pitching coach first.  

Since adding the pitch, and returning to the rotation on May 31st, Keller has a 3.51 ERA in the 10-start span.  His 2022 season ERA is down from 6.61 on May 13th, to now 4.55 after his last start.  This in large part should be attributed to Marin's help and this new sinker Keller throws.  Consider Keller and Brubaker the 3rd and 4th feathers of Marin's growing cap.

If we continue into the bullpen, I have to assume that Marin had some say in the decision to move Wil Crowe to the bullpen, if not being the main contributor to that decision.  While Crowe isn't the top reliever in the league, as he was looking like earlier in the season, he is certainly one of the top relievers in the Pirates bullpen.  He has found a home in the bullpen and it looks like Crowe will be a serviceable relief pitcher for a long time.

Add in the All-Star season David Bednar is having, plus the decent relief outings we have seen out of Tyler Beede, Yerry De Los Santos, Chase De Jong, and Duane Underwood Jr., and the Pirates have to be happy with the staff overall.  While the staff certainly needs to continue this upward trend, and still has a ways to go, it looks like Oscar Marin is not the one to shoulder the blame for this season's woes.  This is dramatically different than the narrative going into May, and I think it's due time that we begin crediting Marin with the successes we've seen with the pitching staff this season.