Tuesday, July 5, 2016

On Steven Brault & Jameson Taillon

Steven Brault, 24, was the player to be named later in the Travis Snider trade with the Baltimore Orioles in 2015. A San Diego native (he's still a Padres fan), he's put up a 2-3/2.57 slash at Indy, with just eight starts because of time off for a hammy issue. He's been back in action since June 20th with a rehab start at Morgantown and a couple of outings for Indianapolis.

Steven Brault (image via MLB Pipeline)

The southpaw's toolkit features four pitches - a sinking fastball that sits between 89-92, a slider that's his out pitch, an average change and a show-me curve. Brault has shown the ability to miss some bats, averaging 11 K per game, though none of his pitches is considered a real plus offering but MLB average stuff. His keys are a lively pace on the hill, a deceptive delivery (not herky jerky, but one where he hides the ball well), good command/location along with mixing speeds. As a bonus, Steven is a pretty good hitter, as he was an OF'er in college when he wasn't on the bump.

He does allow runners; his WHIP is 1.429, with a hit an inning and four walks per game. Then again, Brault does only have 35 IP at the AAA level. And his FIP of 2.87 indicates that he's not been the beneficiary of luck, but has a honest set of numbers. We've seen a couple of comparisons with Mark Buehle tossed out there; we're a bit more reminded of a Jeff Locke type of guy, hopefully without the ups and downs.

His background is modest; after HS ball he went to D-2 Regis University in Colorado to pitch (and also sing; he was a vocal major and has both sung a pre-game National Anthem & played in a rock band) and was drafted in the eleventh round (#339) of his junior year. With the Pirates, the #17 prospect per Baseball America has been moving up like a geyser, starting 2015 at Bradenton, moving to Altoona and then beginning the 2016 campaign at Indy before getting a ticket to the show, where today he'll become the first Regis Ranger to pitch in the majors.

Brault was probably brought up before his time as a matter of circumstance. He was in line to pitch today, and the decision to DL Jameson Taillon left Steven as the obvious spot starter, and maybe a little more.

JT will get a break as he rests from shoulder fatigue (photo MLB Pipeline)

JT took a couple of seasons off after Tommy John and hernia surgeries, and people had been knocking on wood that the innings wouldn't catch up to him. Looks like they did, as the FO placed him on the DL with shoulder fatigue. The Pirates can backdate the move to the DL to Thursday, setting up a return date July 15th. Hopefully, that's all it is.

We don't think this is a hocus-pocus to save innings; otherwise, the FO might have lined up Tyler Galsnow instead of Brault and saved the 40-man roster move. Our guess is that JT felt a little dead arm after his last bullpen, and the Pirates took the opportunity to shut him down for a couple of weeks to save him for the dog days. It's good after the TJ surgery that it wasn't an achy elbow, but still, shoulder weakness can sometimes be the precursor of some serious stuff, so we'll see how that plays out, tho every indication is that it's a minor tweak and not anything serious.

He and Cole Train should return after the ASB - Gerrit is working a rehab start tonight, with a three inning/50 pitch limit - so the pitching is beginning to line up again if the team can get through the Cardinals/Cubs lead-in to the All-Star game.

This was, after all, supposed to be a transition year for the pitching staff. We're pretty sure the FO didn't plan on having four guys make their MLB debuts before ASB, but it's nice to know that the pipeline could handle the call for arms.

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