The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the dog days of the 2012 season. The team dropped a hard fought game last night to the Dodgers. How in the hell did Neil Walker’s screamer back up the middle get caught by Randy Choate? Wow. But anyway, just a couple breaks here and there, and that game was the Pirates to be had.
As the dog days drudge on, the Pirates are going to be looking around for some help to strengthen their roster before the month ends when rosters must be set. We have heard Neal Huntington talk about some waiver claims, we have seen teams like the Giants strengthen their roster by claiming relievers, so what might the Pirates do?
We think help is in the system and you know most of the names on the Pirates radar in Bryan Morris, Chris Leroux and Justin Wilson. But we want you to consider a couple of under the radar options.
It’s hard not to see Tim Wood jump off the screen when we read recaps on the Indians games. Currently, Wood is on quite a ten game run, but we’ve seen this before. The Indians closer has piled up 17 saves, but more importantly, he has pitched two innings about every third appearance and just look at the results.
Wood has allowed one earned run in his past ten games, 14.2 innings. Look at those impressive strikeout to walk ratios as well before you dismiss Wood as a candidate that could help the Bucs.
You look at his numbers and might think yeh, but those numbers don’t jump out for you. Take a closer look, Wood gave up seven earned runs in the month of April which put him behind the eight ball.
But he was stupid in the month of May, allowing just one earned run over 19.2 innings pitched. It continued in June when he repeated that success and gave up just one earned run again, this time over 12.2 innings. He came back to earth in July giving up five earned runs in sixteen innings, setting up the excellent start you can see he is having in August.
Wood was named the best reliever in the International League by Baseball America last week. Clint Hurdle isn’t big on using young players in crucial situations, but we can’t help recall when he showed trust in Tony Watson last season. It was a big moment against the Diamondbacks, and Watson shined. He’s been a go to reliever for Hurdle ever since.
However, Hurdle hasn’t used youngsters very much this season. We recall Bryan Morris getting the call–and sitting. We can see how well Jeff Locke is being used currently.
The next two weeks are very important and we trust the Bucs will gain some ground. They might need to bring in some fresh arms to make that happen. Wood would be one to consider in the mix, he’s pitching as well as anyone.
But Neal Huntington touched on the fact that he doesn’t want to rob the minor leagues of players who can help get their clubs into the playoffs. The Tribe have been playing very well as they lead the International League in wins, and the Altoona Curve are on a big road trip that begins up in Maine today. The Curve are fighting to get back in the playoff hunt. Taking a pitcher like Wood out of their mix would hurt, grabbing a pitcher like Vic Black from Altoona would also sting.
If you’re not familiar with Black, you should be. A guy with 98 mph heat doesn’t come around often. (Also, be sure to check out our upcoming podcast to hear more) Black has been striking out bad guys at a prolific rate. We think Black getting the call is very unlikely, but read his numbers anyway. You need a pick me up today.
Players like Wood and Black are solid. So grabbing Bryan Morris might not hurt Indy as bad as one might think, and since he came up already this season, he should be brought up if Juan Cruz continues to struggle. But Tim Wood wouldn’t be a bad option either. Obviously it’s not our call, but the Pirates do have many options in their own system, which is at least comforting to know. Now if they get an opportunity is another story.