Pittsburgh Pirates Make Wrong Move In Optioning A.J. Schugel
By Marty Leap
To make room on the 25-man roster for Tyler Glasnow, the Pittsburgh Pirates optioned reliever A.J. Schugel to Triple-A Indianapolis. However, this is not the move the team should have made.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have officially recalled Tyler Glasnow from Triple-A to start today’s game. However, the corresponding roster move that was made was the wrong move. To make room for Glasnow on the roster the Pittsburgh Pirates optioned right-handed relief pitcher A.J. Schugel to Triple-A.
Optioning Schugel to Triple-A was not a smart move by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirate bullpen has been up and down most of the season, but A.J. Schugel has been consistent all season long. Schugel is also a big reason why the Pirate bullpen has been arguably the best in baseball the past five weeks.
A.J. Schugel has made a strong case for being the Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie of the Year in 2016. Schugel has pitched 48 innings this season averaging 7.69 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, and just 0.75 HR/9. All of this has resulted in Schugel posting a 3.94 ERA, 3.39 FIP, and a 3.94 xFIP this season. Honestly, A.J. Schugel has been, at worst, the Pittsburgh Pirates fourth best reliever.
As I wrote about earlier today, the move the Pittsburgh Pirates should have made to create a roster spot for Tyler Glasnow was designating Jon Niese for assignment. Jon Niese has been terrible this season and serves the Pirates no purpose. But since I already delved into that once today, I will leave it at that.
If the Pittsburgh Pirates did not want to designate anyone for assignment, then they should have optioned Jared Hughes to Triple-A. Like A.J. Schugel, Jared Hughes still has options left and would not have had to be designated for assignment. Jared Hughes has been a steady member of the Pirate bullpen the past five seasons, but 2016 has been by far the worst season of his career.
In 32 2/3 innings pitched this season Jared Hughes has a 3.03 ERA, but that ERA is very misleading. Hughes has a 4.85 FIP and a 5.34 xFIP, both of which are career worsts. Hughes is also averaging a career low 4.68 K/9, he’s allowing 0.83 HR/9 which ties a career high, and his 3.86 BB/9 is the second highest in his career.
The reason for Hughes’ struggles this year is that he has lost his turbo sinker. Jared Hughes has always made his living on being a ground ball machine. However, this season he has a career low 50.5 percent ground ball rate. The next lowest ground ball rate of his career was 56.3 percent in 2013.
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The Pittsburgh Pirates dropped the ball with their roster move today. When they promoted Tyler Glasnow, Jon Niese should have been designated for assignment. If not, then the Pirates should have optioned Jared Hughes to Triple-A. Regardless of what move they made, optioning A.J. Schugel to Triple-A was the wrong move. The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen got worse today due to this move.