On July 19, five days after he had been designated for assignment, the Pirates acquired Dillon Peters from the Los Angeles Angels. With a career track record that did not seem to yield much to like, Ben Cherington and the Pirates front office saw something in Peters that made them pull the trigger.
The move seemed to be more or less a head-scratcher at the time, as Peters was added to the 40-man roster and Kyle Crick was designated for assignment to make room for him. At best, it seemed the Pirates were just adding some depth to their starting pitching in case of injuries, future trades, etc.
In 132.2 career innings between the Angels and the Miami Marlins, Peters owned a career 5.83 ERA/5.85 FIP, had command issues (4.1 BB/9) and was allowing nearly two homers per nine innings.
Even in 41.1 innings for Triple-A with the Angels, Peters had a 4.35 ERA/6.37 FIP, and was allowing 2.6 home runs per nine innings.
When the Pirates recalled Peters from Indianapolis on Aug. 15, there did not seem to be any real expectations other than a guy who could hopefully eat innings.
However, capped by five shutout innings Tuesday night against the Reds, a game in which he picked up his first Pirates win, Peters has been exceptional. In now five starts with the Pirates, Peters has a 2.66 ERA/3.16 FIP. In 23.2 innings, he’s walked eight, struck out 20 and has allowed just one home run. The Pirates as a team are 3-2 in games started by the left-hander.
Peters is not overpowering, averaging just under 91 mph on his fastball, but he has done an excellent job of keeping hitters of balance. He’s using his changeup more than every before (34% of the time), and opposing batters have had troubles with it. Of Peters’ five punch outs in Tuesday’s game vs. Cincinnati, four came by way of swings and misses on the changeup. He’s not been afraid to pitch aggressively as 67% of his pitches thrown in a Pirates’ uniform have been for strikes.
Some more keys for Peters’ success start with he fact that been getting off to strong starts in each of his five games on the mound. He has yet to allow a run in either the first or second innings of any of his starts this season. Additionally, he has excelled at keeping the ball on the ground, with over 50% of balls put in play being ground balls.
Time will tell if Peters will be able to sustain his hot start in Pittsburgh, but he very well could be pitching his way to a roster spot come Opening Day 2022.