This is the one in a series of stories looking at members of the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man roster.
The Pirates’ pitching staff has been the subject of some harsh criticism for quite some time now. In 2022, there were definitely some lame ducks, but there were also a few intriguing names that could become solid members.
One of those potentially solid members is Chase De Jong.
The 28-year-old De Jong has been something of a journeyman since he began his major league career in 2017 with the Seatle Mariners.
The Pirates marked his fourth team in his five years of major league experience, and until ’22, De Jong has been below average, to put it lightly.
Before the ’22 season, De Jong participated in 24 games, and he had all the makings of a classic Quad-A player or a guy who could never take that much needed extra step once he left Triple-A.
De Jong began the ’22 campaign in Indianapolis, and after three games, the Pirates decided to give De Jong the call on April 21.
Primarily used as a starter in the minors, De Jong found a nice little niche in the bullpen as a reliable option.
Looking over some specific stats, De Jong performed well with runners in scoring position, holding teams to a .153/.287/.222 slash line, along with an OPS of .510.
There are some cases that De Jong may have been a bit lucky, with his FIP at 4.75 and xFIP at 4.96, and with his hard hit percentage (34th percentile) and barrel% (27th percentile), it makes sense to think that way.
De Jong’s best month of work came during the dog days of summer in August, where he posted a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched (the most he pitched in a singular month).
To go along with his 1.77 ERA, De Jong held opponents to a .125/.240/.156 slash line with an OPS of .396.
De Jong, at one point in the season, pitched 19 straight scoreless innings (Aug. 13 through Sept. 9).
Whether or not it is intentional, De Jong loves to throw his four-seamer at the top of the zone, but despite the location, De Jong held opposing batters to a .209 average.
De Jong’s best pitch, however, was his slider (29.2% usage). Despite De Jong’s average break on his slider being 4.4 inches, he seemed to get a good amount of swings and misses with around a 41.4% whiff rate and a meager batting average of .170.
When the dust settled and the season came to a close, De Jong finished with a 2.64 ERA in 71.2 innings pitched (42 games). Even with a bloated final month of work (4.96 ERA), De Jong finished with an opposing slash line of .204/.299/.380 with an OPS of .679.
De Jong will never be a superstar or a stud, but he provides a much needed innings eater and can provide somewhat of a veteran presence in a relatively young pitching staff heading into the 2023 season.