Pirates Could Use Two Starters As One

Brault and Kuhl may piggy-back

Jeff Hathhorn
July 07, 2020 - 5:15 pm
Steven Brault throwing

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – Pirates manager Derek Shelton said he could try some new things with his pitchers this year.  How about the Pirates using a piggy-back?

“The piggy-back thing is a little weird, but we’ve all done it,” said pitcher Steven Brault.  “Cause in the minor leagues it’s not that uncommon.  So if that’s what we end up doing, it’s not going to be too weird.”

Brault said on Tuesday that he and Chad Kuhl, returning from a season-long Tommy John surgery, have been working in tandem, and they could do what he’s done in the minors before, have one start and the other finish. 

What is unique with this situation is a reliever would finish an inning if a starter could not and the second pitcher would begin the next inning fresh.

“I’ve done the bullpen thing,” Brault said.  “I’ve done the starting thing.  Might as well try to do something in the middle, why not?”

The 28 year-old lefty is not sure if that will happen, but starting with 30 players on the roster you have more options in the bullpen and no pitcher is built up quite as much as in the middle of a season.

“I would assume that even if we do that (piggy-back start) in the beginning, it’s not going to last very long just because as the roster goes down, you can’t have guys that only pitch every five days waiting,” Brault said.  “We have enough of those as it is.”

Coming back from a shoulder injury, Brault said he’s cleared to go full, but has only thrown a couple of innings to live batters because other pitchers are ahead of him.  Brault credits some good rehabilitation in Florida, including work with new pitching coach Oscar Marin.

“Learning about how the bio-mechanics of the body work when going through a delivery, basically how horribly it is for you in general,” Brault said.  “Everything we are doing is trying to prevent it from actually hurting because it should hurt, it’s a dumb movement that we are doing.”

Brault said he worked on three main things while in Bradenton—getting his arm to a more starting position, trying not to lean-over during his delivery and being stronger on his front leg, so he doesn’t fall forward.

How these changes impact the Pirates will be proven out in a few weeks.  Regardless, the California native said he and his teammates are ready to play.

“We are really excited, it’s kind of a fun idea,” Brault said.  “Just imagine 100 games into the season everyone is tied.  That’s how we are approaching it like it’s a 60 game playoff race sprint.”

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