The Pirates announced that right-hander JT Brubaker underwent surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, also known as Tommy John surgery. They project that he can return in 14-16 months.
As frustrating as this news is for Brubaker and the Pirates, it doesn’t come as a shock. Brubaker landed on the 15-day injured list at the start of the season with elbow discomfort and was transferred to the 60-day injured list a few days later. It was reported over a week ago that Tommy John surgery was on the table, then reported just yesterday that Brubaker was seeking a second opinion on his elbow. It seems that his fate could be avoided no longer and he finally underwent the procedure today.
This will now wipe out the entirety of his 2023 season and at least a portion of his 2024 campaign as well. It’s a frustrating setback as Brubaker was looking to build off a strong 2022 campaign. He made 28 starts for the Bucs last year with a 4.69 ERA that probably doesn’t do him justice. He struck out 22.8% of batters faced while walking just 8.4% of them and getting grounders at a 44% clip. His .334 batting average on balls in play and 66.8% strand rate were both on the unfortunate side of league average, which is why his 3.92 FIP and 3.97 SIERA came in well below his ERA.
He’ll now have to go through an extensive rehab process before getting the chance to take a step forward. He finished last year with exactly three years of MLB service time, allowing him to qualify for arbitration for the first time. He and the club agreed to a $2.275MM salary for 2023 and he’ll likely be looking at a similar rate for next year. The arbitration system works to push salaries up year over year and players usually wind up at the same price point after missing an entire season. Brubaker is currently slated for two more passes through arbitration before reaching free agency after the 2025 season.
The Pirates will now be navigating the rest of the year without Brubaker in their rotation mix. That leaves them with Mitch Keller, Rich Hill, Vince Velasquez, Roansy Contreras and Johan Oviedo for now, though Hill and Velasquez are both one one-year deals. Assuming the Bucs don’t stay in the playoff race all summer, they would each be logical trade candidates, which could open opportunities for younger arms like Luis Ortiz or Quinn Priester.
Couldn’t they do Burrows as well so Bob could get the 2 for 1 discount?
Yeah, why not? Cruz, Brubaker, Burrows…maybe operate on Rich Hill while they’re at it. He could use a new arm. At this rate, they’ll be ready to compete in ‘27
If only Shelton would have a functioning brain.
Choi who hit homers in consecutive games and Castro who’s finally finding his bat were benched in today’s game in favor of Mathias who in my opinion is worthless at the plate and Connor Joe who’s cooled off considerably.
Lastly, Hayes is always overhyped by Pirate broadcasters. His glove at 3rd base is second to none, his bat, not worth the money he’s making
We’ve only just begun to see the genius of Shelton this year. These kinds of mystery moves are one thing—it’s a good thing VanMeter isn’t around anymore—but just wait
Shelton subscribes to the idea that somehow, guys need a day off. Even if they are DH. Even if the season just began
Joe and Mathias have no business being on the big team while Swaggerty and Gonzalez fester on the farm. Given the loss of offense that comes with Cruz being gone and both Hayes and Suwinski mired in funks, that would seem apparent. But hey, let’s bench guys who *are* hitting, too
Meanwhile, Hill and Velasquez are exactly who we thought they were. Is he really going to trot them out there every 5th day?
That 7-4 start was as good as it is going to get
Connor Joe got hot and cooled off in less than 2 weeks! That’s impressive.
Point was, he wasn’t the best option coming out of Bradenton no matter how much of a hot spurt he found himself in. I mean, look at the bigger picture
I get the idea of financial control. Again
But where all these prospects you can’t help wondering, is it soup yet?
Only if the accountant says so
Lineups are irrelevant. It’s Reynolds and everyone else. Everyone has to play. Can’t have a guy playing once every week or 2 and expect him to be good.
No prospects are ready. Want Swaggerty because he hit in spring training? Lots of guys hit in spring. Want Marcano because he has actually been good for a week? Lets at least give him a month. When these guys are hitting.400 after 2 months you can say they need called up.
So you’re saying that there really was never any real “competition” for big club spots in Spring Training. I get it
Perhaps if we were talking Swaggerty tearing it up and Reynolds or Cutch having a miserable spring, ok
Agree with you about giving guys time to establish themselves, in general. Just seems to me that on this club, you need to go with most promising options
Backup catcher and bullpen. The outfield and 2b competition is happening this month.
I understand that on any team and in any sport, there’s the need to keep proving yourself—to earn your spot as a starter or as a member of the team, in general. Appreciate your comments, as always. Just wish Pirates seasons weren’t continual battles that had the wild card of player control, as you so thoroughly have detailed.
It’s not even service time. Probably should be but Bae is here right? He was productive at AAA last year and versatile. Swaggerty needs playing time and isn’t as good as Reynolds Cutch. Suwinski deserves a spot. CSN was almost as good as Swaggerty spring and has a better minor league record. Marcano had an opportunity last season and did nothing. So all the sudden he is fantastic because he hit for a week and a half? Even if you think that is enough of a sample size how about keeping his confidence and not risk destroying his development. Endy and Davis can’t catch at a mlb level. Priester ain’t ready. Ortiz is closer but can definitely work on things, maybe a stronger 3rd pitch? Gonzalez will strike out a ton at mlb. Peguero can’t hit or throw accurately. No one needs or should be promoted yet.
I disagree about Endy, his defense at catcher is superb and in my opinion better than his bat at this stage of his development. Everything else is spot on.
More than anything the team needs starting pitching to start really contending. Ortiz and Roansy both have filthy breaking balls but both are still 2 pitch pitchers which carries a lot of risk for getting smacked around if their slider or control is off on a given night. I’m not sold on either as starters long term if they can’t develop a third pitch but think they’d both be lights out relievers if it comes to that. That leaves Keller as the only reliable starter to pencil into next year’s rotation. There’s other options but nobody who has a spot locked up which is concerning. Still a ton of baseball this year so hopefully Roansy, Ortiz, Priester, maybe Burrows depending on the severity of his injury or someone else steps up to claim a spot moving forward.
You forgot Oviedo here which is a mistake. I like the upside of his abilities much more than Contreras or Ortiz and the unfortunate aspect of Brubaker’s injury, to me at least, is that you had a potent top 3
Contreras seems to either be the penthouse or the out house. You see him shut down teams and other times, as you say, he’s leaving his two pitches dead red and hitters tee off
I rely on Dream for thoughts on guys down on the farm but would hope that if Hill and VV continue to get hit hard, there is some option. Admittedly, I have not seen enough of Ortiz to know
Ironically, tomorrow is an off day so benching hitters to “ give them a day off “ makes my opinion of Shelton even worse
I agree, Swaggerty and Gonzalez should have made the parent club right after the end of ST.
Hill settled down in this start which was actually considered a “ quality start “. 2 runs in 6 innings.
But I definitely agree Velasquez should be in the bullpen and not in the rotation
Hill seems to be consistent in “settling down”. That’s 2 out of 3 starts. Point is, he’s not a guy who can shut down opposing offenses and usually puts his team in a 2- or 3 run hole
But what is the option now. Call Ortiz or Priester up?
@TheClown3 At least Shelton can read a schedule and know tomorrow isn’t a off day.
It will be a Vince day so maybe this will be the last time we have to watch him start?
Buuba ho tep
This is The big reason Shelton should be given time off…..fired immediately
I expect him to be extended and deservingly so.
Tough break for JT and the bucs, hope to see him back in the show next year.
You know, what’s sickening is that unlike so many guys, he actually spent the off season refining his mechanics and pitches. You saw that all spring
Last season, he had this beautiful love affair with dead red. Whether fastballs or spin pitches, he just couldn’t resist Main Street
But he learned location management and spin mastery over the intervening months
Was looking forward to having a staff of Keller, Contreras, Oviedo, Brubaker and designated castoff
Is there a FA or a trade partner for a quality #3 starter that can make an immediate impact? I have zero confidence in Rich Hill every 5th day. Contreras, Keller, Velazquez, and Oviedo are doing alright for the most part. Hill concerns me ALOT. His velocity is of a beer league pitcher. 85 mph fastball is just a batting practice pitch. I hope the Pirates make a move of some sort to improve that rotation.
It’s 87 or 88 mph! You are stuck with him. He had 1 awful inning and 1 awful game. He can still pitch well enough to give you a chance. Not even a #5 starter available in free agency. You have to pay a lot to get a #3 at the deadline. Right now would be a lot more than that. Even awful teams have to eat innings until super 2. Ortiz will be up if Hill or Velazquez are just brutally awful the rest of this month yet Pirates look like contenders. Otherwise they are here until August or injured.
Agree with being stuck with him and most everything else. But if you’re going to push the “he had one bad inning and one bad game card,” uh, please.
Again, he is what we thought he was. Having seen enough of him since he was with LA, this is no shock. Ask any Red Sox fan.
In a way, the Bucs were trying to get another Quintana-like pitcher here but Hill has had the propensity to get the ball up the past few seasons. Certainly, the Pirates pitching gurus knew this.
But I agree. Not much you can do now. VV is another story altogether. Pity there is no Ray Searage or Leo Mazzone here to impart wisdom and turn guys around
Yeah, I’m being only half facetious
Fans don’t know anything. Red Sox probably wanted him back for 5 million again. He was very solid for them.
so far Hill has been a Dud through spring and short sample three games. I’m not impressed.
But hey.. still April.
(edit) i still like the signing though.
Dream is right, of course. I looked at his stats for the Sox and perhaps he’ll right the ship. Velasquez looks a lot like Chad Kuhl to me. Throws hard but doesn’t know where he’s throwing it. Hope for the best
JT with the TJ.