The Pittsburgh Pirates have activated Cory Luebke off of the disabled list.
Prior to their series finale with the Chicago Cubs on Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates activated left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke off the disabled list. The corresponding move made by the Pirates was to option right-handed reliever A.J. Schugel to AAA Indianapolis.
The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has really struggled this season, largely due to poor middle relief. Arquimedes Caminero, Ryan Vogelsong, Kyle Lobstein, Jared Hughes, and, before going on the disabled list, Cory Luebke have all struggled mightily this season.
While the back end of the Pirate bullpen has been strong, the struggling middle relief has really hurt the team. Overall on the season the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has a 4.16 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 4.69 xFIP, and a -0.7 WAR. Yikes.
While Luebke struggled in 3 1/3 innings pitched in the Majors this season, he was solid during his rehab stint. In 12 1/3 innings pitched at AAA Luebke had a 2.92 ERA, he walked three batters, and struck out an impressive 18. Luebke missed most of Spring Training due to various issues, so his rehab stint was essentially his Spring Training. Hopefully, that will have him straightened out.
While I was looking forward to Luebke being recalled to see what he can do when healthy, I would have designated Arquimedes Caminero for assignment instead of optioning A.J. Schugel to AAA. Why? It’s simple, Schugel has been a lot better this season.
In 14 2/3 innings pitched this season Caminero has been atrocious allowing 18 hits, walking 11 batters, and posting a very underwhelming FIP of 5.54 and ERA of 4.91. Even though Schugel’s 4.96 ERA is inflated by two bad outings, the rest of his numbers are excellent. In 16 1/3 innings pitched Schugel is averaging 9.37 K/9, 2.20 BB/9, 1.10 HR/9, and he has a 3.33 FIP and 3.56 xFIP.
My guess is that Caminero only survived because he is out of options and would have to be designated for assignment and the Pittsburgh Pirates would risk losing him. That said, if he does not figure it out soon I would expect him to be shown the door when Jameson Taillon arrives in a few weeks and Juan Nicasio, Jon Niese, or Jeff Locke is shifted to the bullpen.
The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has featured some incredibly poor middle relief this season. However, Cory Luebke looked healthy and capable of helping during his rehab stint. Hopefully Luebke can help out the bullpen.