Left-hander Steven Brault has retired, as he announced on his personal Instagram page last month. A veteran of seven MLB seasons, Brault spent almost his entire major league career as a member of the Pirates. According to a recent report by Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Brault has his sights set on a second act in broadcasting now that his playing career has come to a close.
“I cannot possibly describe what it feels like to achieve a childhood dream,” Brault wrote in his announcement, “Playing Major League Baseball was everything I could have ever imagined and so much more… I may be retiring from playing, but I plan to continue in this game for life. Baseball is my passion, and I plan on sharing that passion with the world. ”
Drafted by the Orioles in the 11th round of the 2013 draft, Brault was acquired by the Pirates as the player to be named later in the deal that sent outfielder Travis Snider to the Orioles back in January 2015. Brault made his major league debut for the Pirates the following year and served as a swingman while shuttling between the majors and Triple-A from 2016 to 2017. In those first two years of his big league career, Brault posted roughly league average results, with a 4.76 ERA and 4.70 FIP in 68 innings of work.
In 2018, Brault got his first chance to stick on the major league roster, pitching to a 4.61 ERA (85 ERA+) in 91 2/3 innings of work primarily as a multi-inning reliever out of the Pittsburgh bullpen. While Brault held his own in his first full-season taste of big league action, his effectiveness was limited by control issues that saw him issue free passes to 13.8% of batters faced while striking out just 19.9%.
Brault’s role shifted again in 2019, as he began to pitch primarily as a member of the starting rotation. Brault posted a 5.16 ERA during the 2019 campaign that was virtually identical to his previous season by measure of ERA+ (84), but he eclipsed 100 innings for the first (and only time) in his career and posted more solid numbers when looking exclusively at his 19 starts that season. In 95 2/3 innings of work as a starter in 2019, Brault posted a 4.99 ERA with a walk rate under 10% while striking out 20.1% of batters faced.
The shortened 2020 campaign was by far the strongest of Brault’s career. Pitching almost exclusively as a member of the rotation, he posted a strong 3.38 ERA, 34% better than league average by measure of ERA+, with a 3.92 FIP and a career-best 21.3% strikeout rate in 42 2/3 innings of work. Unfortunately for Brault, he’d be left unable to build upon his strong campaign during the shortened season the following year as he was limited to just seven appearances due to a recurring left lat strain that saw him make his first start of the season in August before prompting returning to the injured list in September.
Brault’s injury woes led the Pirates to designate the lefty for assignment following the 2021 campaign, at which point Brault caught on with the Cubs on a minor league deal. Brault once again battled injury issues early in the season but managed to make his debut with the big league Cubs on the Fourth of July. He would ultimately make nine appearances in short relief for the Cubs, posting a 3.00 ERA and 3.33 FIP with a 20.5% strikeout rate before a shoulder strain ended his season.
Entering 2023, Brault caught on with the Spire City Ghost Hounds of the independent Atlantic League, though he did so as an outfielder, not as a pitcher. Brault had hit well during his college days with a .971 OPS in 199 trips to the plate, and was one of the better hitting pitchers in the majors as well, with a career .258/.275/.337 slash line in 101 major league plate appearances. Brault’s stint with the Ghost Hounds ultimately lasted 58 games, during which he slashed a solid .283/.327/.465 with an 18% walk rate in 200 plate appearances.
Ultimately, Brault ended his big league career having posted a 4.73 ERA and 4.64 FIP with 299 strikeouts in 352 1/3 innings of work. Those of us at MLBTR would like to congratulate Brault on his playing career and wish him all the best in his post-playing endeavors.