Reevaluating My Pittsburgh Pirates Preseason Grades At the Halfway Point - Pitchers

Photo credit: Gregory Bull/AP Photo

Now that we have reached the proverbial halfway point, I will reevaluate the preseason and quarter-point grades I had for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  

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Before the season started, I did my best to prognosticate how each Pittsburgh Pirates position group graded out.  I reevaluated these grades at the quarter-way point.  Now that the Pirates are at the proverbial halfway point of the 2022 MLB season (even though that's not particularly accurate), I will reevaluate those preseason and quarter-point grades.  

On Tuesday, I posted my midway point grades for the Pirates position players.  This one will be for the Pirates pitchers.  

Starting Rotation - Original: D, Quarter-point: C-, All-Star Break: B-

The current rotation is made up of Mitch Keller, Jose Quintana, JT Brubaker, Zach Thompson, and Bryse Wilson.  Each have had their success and struggles throughout the course of the 2022 season so far.

Keller started off the season right where he left off 2021: Terribly.  After his first seven starts, Keller had a 6.61 ERA and was given some time off in the bullpen.  He made two relief appearances which allowed him to work on a new pitch.  By the time he was placed back into the rotation Keller was relying on a sinker instead of a four-seam fastball as his primary pitch.

Aside from a couple back to back rough starts, Keller has greatly turned it around.  He continues to turn in starts that can be considered the best of his young career.  His ERA has dropped from 6.61 to 4.55, and Keller is coming off two quality starts going into the break.  He has even shown signs that he could be the Pirates ace, which we have hoped for him since his career started.    

Brubaker has also turned it around as of late.  After a rough April, he has 3.42 ERA in his last 13 starts.  He is also coming off of arguably his best start of his career as well.  In Miami last week, Brubaker gave up no runs, only three hits, and struck out nine Marlins in seven innings. It was a great way for him to enter the break.

Unfortunately, Jose Quintana is actually going in the opposite direction.  His 2022 ERA reached as low as 2.19 after seven starts.  Since then, his ERA has grown to a concerning 3.99.  In his last 11 starts, Quintana has a 5.23 ERA.  He also only has two quality starts in that span.  This is terrible timing as Quintana is to be dealt at the trade deadline, but despite his recent woes he still seems to be a hot commodity.  

Zach Thompson and Bryse Wilson are nothing more than 4th or 5th starters on a bad team.  Unfortunately, we have two of them in the rotation at the same time.  This is largely because Roansy Contreras is on the Pittsburgh Pirate load management and service time manipulation plan.  He was optioned just before the All-Star break.  We should see him back up with the big club sometime soon.  

With the steady rising of Keller and Brubaker, combined with Thompson and Wilson being serviceable, this rotation gets a passing grade.  Even with Quintana probably leaving via trade, him being replaced with Contreras should be a boost if he worked out some of his wildness while optioned.  I can't help but feel confident in a lot of these guys so I feel comfortable giving them a B- at this point in the season.

Bullpen - Original: F+, Quarter-point: F, All-Star Break: C-

The Pirates bullpen has went from the reason they lose ballgames to now just periodically blowing games in extra innings.  Overall, the group has been serviceable.  Unfortunately, right as they, and the rotation, started turning it around, the Pirates lost the ability to hit.  

David Bednar has been a staple of this bullpen all season.  He was the Pirates lone All-Star representative, and deservedly so.  While he has faltered as of late, it's really just coming back to Earth.  Closers have their ups and downs, and right now, Bednar is experiencing a down.  But he's still one of the best closers in all of Major League Baseball.

While Bednar has his down days, Wil Crowe and rookie Yerry De Los Santos have picked up some of the slack.  Crowe has been known for his multi-inning outings this season, including a 3-inning save.  De Los Santos has converted three saves on the season and carries a respectable 3.00 ERA out of the break.  Both are great complements to Bednar in either earlier innings or when Bednar is unavailable to pitch.

Tyler Beede has also been a pleasant surprise.  The Pirates picked Beede up in the middle of May from the San Francisco Giants off of waivers.  Beede has a 3.04 ERA in 26.2 innings pitched.  He is someone who can be counted for middle inning relief.

The rest of the group includes a myriad of arms that can't really be considered dependable.  Dillon Peters started the season on fire, but has struggled mightily as of late.  Chris Stratton has struggled all season, and Duane Underwood Jr. always seems ready to blow up in any given outing.  

With the bullpen lacking many dependable options, especially with Chase De Jong on the Injured List, this group gets barely a passing grade at a C-.  Leads have been hard to come by for the Pirates and keeping them has been as well.  Hopefully Bednar comes out of the break on fire like he did to start the season.