Game 84: Brault’s ML Debut

On January 27, 2015, the Pirates dealt outfielder Travis Snider to the Orioles for Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later. A month later, we found out that the PTBNL was LHP Steven Brault. Brault was a low-level prospect at the time with the Orioles, but has quickly rose through the system and will make his ML debut tonight against the Cardinals in Busch Stadium at 8:09PM.

Brault will be the 10th player to start a game for the Bucs this season thanks to injuries to Gerrit Cole, Ryan Vogelsong, Jameson Taillon and subpar performance by Juan Nicasio, who was moved to the bullpen about a week ago. He’ll also be the fourth pitcher to make his ML debut this season with the Pirates.

Brault comes into tonight’s game with a career 2.51 ERA in the minors, a low H/9 rate of 7.5, a minuscule HR/9 at 0.3 and he strikes out just under eight per nine innings in his career. The 24-year-old lefty from California was tearing it up at Triple-A Indy with a 2.57 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 35 innings (11.3 K/9). Brault missed some time this season too after straining his hamstring while running to first base in early May. He returned to Indy’s rotation and made two starts before this call to the show. This start tonight looks to just be a spot start considering Brault only had tossed 35 innings at Indianapolis and the Pirates brass have been adamant to get each prospect about 100 innings at each level. This especially looks like a one-time spot start with Cole making a rehab start in Indy tonight. But even with the limited time at Triple-A, Brault has excelled at each level and earned this start.

I wrote last week about all the talented SP arms in the high minors that the Pirates currently own, and Brault is one of those as he came into the season as the Pirates No. 17 prospect. Brault smoked Double-A Altoona last season with a 9-3 record and 2.00 ERA while only allowing 72 hits in 90 innings.

The Pirates will face an old nemesis in Mike Leake. Leake signed a 5-year/$80M deal with the Cardinals in the offseason and has been average in his first season in St. Louis (4.13 ERA/4.38 FIP), but that probably won’t matter as Leake always finds success against the Bucs to the tune of a 3.13 career ERA and 9-4 record against the Pirates. Leake’s first start of the season was against the Pirates as the Bucs hit him for four runs in 4.0 innings for the win. Leake returned the favor last month in a win over the Pirates with 7.0 innings, three runs allowed on June 12.

As for the lineup tonight, Jung Ho Kang is out of the lineup after news of an alleged sexual assault in Chicago came out this afternoon. Despite being out of the lineup, Clint Hurdle did say Kang is available off the bench tonight.

Pirates North Shore Nine:
Jaso 1B
Polanco RF
McCutchen CF
Marte LF
Freese 3B
Harrison 2B
Mercer SS
Fryer C
Brault P


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