Chris Archer was supposed to be a strong bounce back candidate, but his 2020 has now ended before it ever began. Yesterday we got this surprising tweet from the Pirates:
Yesterday, Chris Archer underwent surgery to relieve symptoms of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.— Pirates (@Pirates) June 3, 2020
Archer is projected to return to full competition for the 2021 season.
Now we are left to wonder who the Pirates could tap to step into Archer’s spot in the rotation. The easy answer is Mitch Keller, though he was already penciled into the rotation (it was always possible that he failed to claim the role). There is no other obvious player to target, unless you believe in non-roster invitees like Derek Holland or Robbie Erlin or Hector Noesi. However there is an under-the-radar name who is worth the flier in the deepest of formats…
Enter JT Brubaker
He’s already on the 40-man roster, and with the likely cancellation of the minor league season that gives us ample reason to believe that he will get an opportunity in the Majors. When that does come, here are the key numbers from 2018 (35.0 IP at Double-A, 119.0 IP at Triple-A) that certainly put him on radars:
- Strikeouts – 7.66 K/9 (10.2% SwStr%)
- Control – 2.57 BB/9
- Groundballs – 53.0%
Unfortunately he wasn’t able to build off those numbers and make his presence felt in the Majors in ’19, as a pair of arm injuries sidelined him for much of the year (27.2 IP for the year). There are also questions about his pure stuff, as his arsenal was described by Baseball America by saying:
Brubaker has a big, sturdy frame that allows him to eat innings as a starter. He progressively ramped up his fastball velocity to the point it now touches 99 mph. He also added a hard cutter in 2018 that increased his strikeout rate and made him very tough against righthanded hitters. Brubaker has struggled against lefties at times and will need a better changeup to stick as a starter. It currently is a fringe-average pitch that is often too firm.
If he can get his changeup up to par he should at least be a solid streaming option for fantasy owners, but with control, groundballs and a big fastball the upside is there for so much more than that. At 26-years old the time is now for the right-handed pitcher, and don’t be surprised if he gets the opportunity to show it.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball America, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: