Good News For pittsburgh pirates : He Is Back, Ex-pittsburgh pirates Key Player Return To Play Again After…

Apr 29, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Miguel Andujar (26) celebrates after hitting a home run against the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

3 players returning from injury who could be big for the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates could soon see the return of these three injured players, who could play a big role upon their arrival.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are not at full strength, but they’ve managed to play above .500 ball for the last 30 games despite having multiple injuries to key players.

But time goes on, and the Pirates will get some of these players back eventually. The team is playing slightly above .500 right now, but some of these returning players could give them a substantial upper hand and potentially propel them to meaningful baseball in September and October.

3 players returning from injury who could be big for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Joey Bart

The Pirates acquired former San Francisco Giants first-round pick Joey Bart early in the season. After Jason Delay landed on the injured list, the Pirates needed more catching depth and with Bart getting DFA’d, he seemed like a perfect candidate to go after. For the first month and some change, Bart looked like an excellent pick-up.

It was only 69 plate appearances, but he was slashing .267/.362/.517 in the small sample size. He had hit four home runs with an 11.6% walk rate, though he also struck out a decent amount and had a 27.5 K%. Overall, he had a .382 wOBA and 148 wRC+. While this probably wasn’t sustainable throughout the entire season, he was making better swing decisions with the Pirates compared to his days with the Giants, and still had a quality .350 wOBA and 9.8% barrel rate.

But then Bart landed on the injured list with a sprain to his left thumb in late May and has been on the IL since. However, it seems he’s is getting closer to getting back into action, as he’s started to play catch from behind the plate.

It’s only step one, but Bart is on the right course, and his return could seriously help the Pirates’ catching situation. He’s been a great hitter, and there’s still a good possibility he continues to be at least a solid batter coming off injury and provides a regular option for the Pirates behind the plate as they head into the second half of the year.

Ryan Borucki

The Pirates have lacked bullpen depth almost all year. While they’ve gotten good performances from their late-inning trio as of recently, as well as the likes of Carmen Mlodzinski and Luis Ortiz as long relievers, the Pirates have been bitten more than once from lacking some other options to turn to. But getting Ryan Borucki back would give this pen a much-needed boost.

Borucki flew under the radar as one of baseball’s best left-handed relievers in 2023. Through 40.1 innings, the southpaw had a 2.45 ERA, 3.50 FIP, and 0.74 WHIP. His 21.7% strikeout rate was about league average, and his 0.89 HR/9 was respectable, but he was allergic to walks, with just a 2.6% walk rate. Borucki barely allowed hard contact with an 85.7 MPH exit velocity and 6.3% barrel rate. He also ended the year with 16 straight scoreless innings and even started to see late-inning/high-leverage innings into September.

Entering 2024, Borucki was expected to play another significant role in the Pirates’ bullpen, but he was placed on the IL in the first week of April with median nerve inflammation. He then suffered a setback in late April, pushing his ETA back even further. However, it seems like Borucki is nearing a return.

He has already thrown a 30-pitch bullpen session and is scheduled to face live batters at the end of the week. He’ll likely report to Triple-A for a week or two to get ramped up, but he is someone the Pirates could get back around the All-Star break. This could be a huge help to the pen that needs a reliable second lefty and someone else they can turn to for higher-leverage innings.

Marco Gonzales

When the Pirates acquired Marco Gonzales from the Atlanta Braves in December, there was a ton of uncertainty about the starting rotation. Fast forward to mid-to-late June, and it’s one of the best starting five in baseball, even with Gonzales missing a large chunk of the season. But he could soon return and solidify the back of the Bucco rotation.

Gonzales opened the year with three impressive starts. He pitched 17 innings, only allowing five earned runs and five walks. Only one of the 15 hits he allowed left the park. Gonzales has never been a big strikeout pitcher, so his 15.9% K% might have been bad overall but was nothing out of the ordinary for him.

Known for consistency and solid performance, the lefty starter started 131 games with a 3.91 ERA from 2018-2022. He was one of only seven other starters who started 130+ games with an ERA lower than 4.00. Gonzales also missed a good chunk of 2023 and has been on the shelf since late April this season with a forearm strain.

Like Borucki, Gonzales also recently threw a 30-pitch bullpen session with the plan of getting him to throw to live hitters at the end of this week. While the Pirates’ bullpen games have worked quite well so far, it would probably be best if they got someone who can solidify the back of their rotation, and with how well Gonzales was throwing in April, that could be a massive boost to an already impressive starting rotation.

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