One month ago, we were talking about the great month of May that Steven Brault just finished. He put up the best ERA for a starter in the system with a 1.26 mark in 28.2 innings. He also had a 1.08 WHIP, a .186 BAA and a 2.00 GO/AO ratio, to go along with 26 strikeouts. Those marks were good enough to get him named as our Pitcher of the Month. It was the second time he was named our Pitcher of the Month, also receiving recognition in August, 2015.
In June, Brault picked up right where he left off in May. He finished the month with a 1.32 ERA in 34 innings, with an 0.91 WHIP and a .211 BAA. The BAA was higher than the previous month, but the WHIP improved because he issued just five walks all month. For a second consecutive month, he averaged nearly a strikeout per inning and the only big difference from May was that his terrific 2.00 GO/AO ratio went down to 0.86, which is unusually low for his career. When you look at the extra innings he pitched in June, while putting up similar stats as May, you could say he had a better month. All of those things factored in, earned him our Pitcher of the Month for June. He is the first pitcher to repeat since Tyler Glasnow back in Bradenton in July/August, 2014.
Brault started June off with seven shutout innings on the 1st. Five days later he followed that up with one run over six innings. In each of those first two starts, he picked up eight strikeouts. His next appearance was actually an inning out of the bullpen. The Pirates have been giving their pitchers rest while still keeping them on their regular schedule, by occasionally using them out of the bullpen. Brault pitched a quick inning of relief and was sitting 94-95 MPH.
In his first game back in the rotation, he allowed two runs over six innings, but almost all of the damage in that game came in the fourth inning on four straight singles. That was followed by his worst start, which was two runs over six innings again, but this time it came with seven hits and three walks. Even this outing didn’t look bad because of how the runs scored. He walked the lead-off batter of the game, then three straight soft singles later he had allowed two runs. One of those hits went about 30 feet and the other two were routine soft grounders hit against the shift. Both looked like double play balls off the bat. He bounced back to finish the month with an outstanding performance, going eight shutout innings with nine strikeouts.
We mentioned last month that Brault looked Major League ready and that was backed up by a quote from Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett, who said he was having “Major League outings”. With a performance just as good as May, or even better you might say, Brault emphatically confirmed what everyone is saying. He is attacking hitters with all of his pitches, showed excellent velocity and better control, while putting up one strong outing after another. I don’t expect Brault to win the July Pitcher of the Month and I’m not saying that because it’s tough to go back-to-back, I’m saying it because he has more than earned his shot at the majors.
PITCHERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL
Indianapolis – Steven Brault, LHP (1.32 ERA, 33:5 K/BB, 34.0 IP)
Altoona – Tate Scioneaux, RHP (2.75 ERA, 17:4 K/BB, 19.2 IP)
Bradenton – Dario Agrazal, RHP (2.37 ERA, 18:2 K/BB, 19.0 IP)
West Virginia – Oddy Nunez, LHP (2.37 ERA, 16:8 K/BB, 19.0 IP)