Jun 14, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcherStolmy Pimentel
(38) throws the ball in the eighth inning of a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. The Pirates won 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
The Pirates face some very difficult roster decisions moving into the 2015 season. The bulk of which will be focused on the pitching staff.
I’m certainly not complaining, and neither is Clint Hurdle, but the fact remains that because the bullpen is so deep and talented that unfortunately there is going to be an odd man (or two) left out. One of the most intriguing players to watch during spring training in this regards will be Stolmy Pimentel. Kind of.
For those of you that don’t know, Stolmy was acquired, or actually downright looted, from the Boston Red Sox in 2012 for a deal that included Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, and Ivan DeJesus for Joel “The Hammer” Hanrahan and a young talent named Brock Holt. The Hammer immediately fizzled, but Brock actually showed some major promise last season. After watching Pedro repeatedly sail throws into the upper deck from third base, watching Brock play last year kind of made me wish we didn’t trade him. I digress, but either way Huntington clearly made out like a bandit in the night on that deal. Again.
Since that acquisition the Pirates had high hopes for Pimentel. He was scouted as an aggressive starter with a 4 pitch arsenal that includes a 4-seam that can stay in the mid-90s consistently but touch 97-98mph, a plus 12-6 curve ball, a hard cutter with good movement, and changeup that very efficiently resembles the fastball in release point and arm speed, but drops to a high 70s velocity. Much to get excited about I know, but please remember these pitches as you continue reading.
They nurtured Pimentel and he did show flashes of brilliance from time to time, but unfortunately he just ended up lacking an overall consistency and he experienced a major drop off from 2013 to 2014. His ERA ballooned from 1.93 in 2013 to 5.26 in 2014 and his BB/9 ratio more than doubled. (1.93 to 4.41). That alone makes you scratch your head, but if you look even closer at the numbers you’ll move from head scratch to downright baffled!
After watching Pedro repeatedly sail throws into the upper deck from third base, watching Brock play last year kind of made me wish we didn’t trade him. I digress, but either way Huntington clearly made out like a bandit in the night on that deal. Again
In the span of just one year Stolmy Pimentel turned into a completely different pitcher. His average fastball velocity dropped in his 4 seam from 94.7mph in 2013 to 93.3mph in 2014. He also lost 2 mph on his 2 seam as well. He’s 23 years old. There is no legitimate reason a drop like that should occur at such a young age pending major arm fatigue. Being that Pimentel only threw 32 innings in the majors in 2014, I think it’s safe to say his arm wasn’t fatigued.
Aside from the sudden and unexplainable lack of velocity, what is even more puzzling to me was the pitch selection itself! Please defer back to what he was scouted to have as a pitch arsenal and then see the actual pitch selection below courtesy of www.fangraphs.com (the best website on the planet)
Most likely due to the decreased velocity and lack of effectiveness in the fastball, he threw it much less and basically abandoned his cutter in favor of a slider that came in on average 6mph slower, 92mph compared to 86mph. Another question mark is why his traditional but effective changeup was replaced with the Split Finger and WHY in the world did he throw this new pitch 38% of the time? See what he’s throwing in the picture above? The split! And where’s that 12-6 he was supposed to have!? Alas, your guess is as good as mine.
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So this leads us to why he’s a player to watch in Spring Training. The only intriguing argument as to what makes Stolmy Pimentel worth added discussion is that he is officially out of options. Not that this is a new development because he was actually out of options entering into last year as well. So I know what you’re thinking. Tuna, why is Stolmy out of options at age 23 and what does that mean really? Ok, I’ll tell you, but prepare to be bored. Pimentel signed a contract with the Red Sox in 2006. Because he reached Rule 5 eligibility heading into the 2011 season, the Red Sox had to place him on the 40-man roster to ensure they didn’t lose him in the Rule 5 draft. That year they ‘optioned’ him to the minors. That’s one option. Boston then used another option to send him down again to the minors in 2012. That’s two. So when the Pirates acquired him, he only had one option left and the Buccos used that one in 2013 to send him to Indy. That’s three.
Most players are only allowed 3 option years before a team risks losing him to waivers if they don’t keep that player on the 25 man roster. I say most because there can be a ‘fourth year option exception’ but in Stolmy’s case that’s not applicable. So basically the Pirates needed to keep him on the 25 man roster all of last season because they don’t want to expose him to waivers and they would have to keep on the 25 man roster all of this season as well or else another team can snatch him up.
To me, this is going to turn into an easier decision then most people think. Unless Stolmy comes out throwing fire balls, after the disappointed 2014 season that he turned in it simply won’t be worth the Pirates time and efforts to guarantee him a spot in the bullpen when they have so many other options to choose from. And some of those other options still have options, which of course gives Clint Hurdle, well, more options. So Stolmy, unless you channel your inner Ricky Vaughn this Spring, I’m sorry but….
You’re out of options.