JT Brubaker Likely To Begin Season On IL With Elbow/Forearm Discomfort

Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker is dealing with discomfort in his right elbow/forearm, manager Derek Shelton tells Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Brubaker is likely headed for the injured list to start the season.

Brubaker, 29, has been part of the club’s rotation for the past three seasons. Last year, he made 28 starts with a 4.69 ERA that might not look too impressive at first glance. However, it’s possible that figure masks his true talent, something that MLBTR’s Anthony Franco recently explored. His 22.8% strikeout rate, 8.4% walk rate and 44% ground ball rate were all pretty close to league average last year. Some bad luck may have been in play, as his .334 batting average on balls in play and 68.8% strand rate were both on the unfortunate side of average. His 3.92 FIP and 3.97 SIERA suggest that better results could have been possible going forward.

The Bucs would have loved to have seen that materialize here in 2023 but it will have to wait. It’s unknown exactly how long Brubaker will be on the shelf but an injury to a pitcher’s throwing elbow or forearm is always concerning. The club will surely do some further testing and figure out the next steps forward.

In the meantime, the Pirates will have to proceed with one less starter in their rotation. The four other spots figure to be occupied by Mitch Keller, Rich Hill, Vince Velasquez and Roansy Contreras. While Brubaker is out, it’s possible that Johan Oviedo steps up and takes a few starts, though the club also has Luis Ortiz and Mike Burrows on the 40-man roster. “I think there’s a good chance it could be Oviedo,” Shelton tells Mackey. “We’re still working through things as we finalize our roster. With the fact that he’s been lengthened out, he’s the most likely one out of the group. I think there’s a good chance we could see that.”

Oviedo, 25, came over to the club in the trade that sent José Quintana to the Cardinals. Though the Cards had moved him to a relief role, the Pirates gave him another chance to start. He took the ball seven times after the trade and posted a 3.23 ERA. He may now get a chance to build on that at the start of the 2023 campaign.

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