ALTOONA, Pa. – The Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted right-handed pitcher J.T. Brubaker to Triple-A Indianapolis.
The 2015 sixth round pick was named the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month for April, posting a 1.45 ERA in 31 innings. He had a 34:5 SO/BB ratio, .200 BAA, 0.90 WHIP, and a 2.22 GO/AO ratio, finishing the month with more strikeouts and more innings than anyone else in the Pirates’ system.
He struggled during his last start; however, Brubaker leaves the Curve with a 1.80 ERA in 35.0 innings this season. He allowed two or less runs in each of his starts, proving that he has matured greatly from last season to now.
His start this past Saturday is one that looks to be a poor start in the box score; however, I was impressed by how he battled. He only made it through four innings while allowing two earned runs, but Erie could have easily scored many more runs against him. Brubaker was clearly not his sharpest and only struck out one batter, but he got out of jams with runners in scoring position multiple times. Last season, it could have easily been a six, seven, or eight run outing against Brubaker. Instead, he battled hard to limit the opposition to two runs while keeping him team in the game.
“Last year, he doesn’t get out of the fourth, to be honest with you, especially at the beginning of the year,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said. “Those are the outings that would snowball on him a little bit. He’s more prepared this year, and he’s able to execute. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he still limited a good hitting team to two runs. He limited the big inning and gave us a shot.”
Brubaker said that the difference to this season is trusting that his stuff is better than the batter’s approach.
“I feel like I’m learning about myself more and trusting my pitches more,” Brubaker said. “Each outing, I feel like it’s a continual growth. I know I can get guys out and make pitches when I need to make pitches.”
Brubaker was the Opening Day starter for the Curve this season after going to the AFL last fall. One of his best starts as a member of the Altoona Curve pitching staff came during the Eastern League Playoffs last season, where he went eight inning and allowed only one run.
The biggest thing I’ve seen that has contributed to his success this season is the “bulldog mentality” that he brings to the mound, channeling his emotions properly this season.
“The way he prepares – he has a plan going in and knows what he wants to do with each hitter,” Michael Ryan said. “I think that has helped. It’s a quiet confidence this year. It seems like he’s in control of his emotions on the exterior; you can’t really tell if he is frustrated or pumped up. He’s a mature guy. That’s the way he’s pitching and the way he’s acting.”
Even with the news of Nick Kingham being optioned back to Indianapolis, there is still plenty of room for improvement in the Indians’ rotation. Alex McRae has a 5.72 ERA in 28.1 IP, Casey Sadler has a 6.00 ERA in 18.0 IP, and Austin Coley has a 10.05 ERA in 14.1 IP. Brubaker and Kingham will more than likely take two of those three rotation spots.