Neal Huntington Show Recap: April 9, 2017

Apr 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) and catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) celebrate after defeating the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park. The Pirates won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) and catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) celebrate after defeating the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park. The Pirates won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

A recap of Neal Huntington’s weekly Sunday radio show on 93.7 The Fan

Every Sunday, Pirate general manager Neal Huntington meets with Pirate broadcaster Greg Brown. The Neal Huntington Show is broadcast on the team’s flagship radio station, 93.7 The Fan, and can be listened to online here.

For those who miss his show, each week here at Rum Bunter we will bring you a recap of the show. Here is a recap of the first Neal Huntington Show of the 2017 regular season.

The Red Sox Rainout

Greg Brown started the Neal Huntington Show out by asking Huntington about the rainout last Thursday in Boston. Huntington expressed interest in the baseball changing the way they handled interleague play early in the season.

Huntington said Major League Baseball should look to playing April interleague series in either a dome or warm weather cities. This is due to the difficulty in making up an interleague game. As Huntington said, “it’s a lot easier to make up a game against the Reds than it is against the Red Sox.”

The Pirate Starting Rotation

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He was then asked about the starting rotation and Tyler Glasnow getting the final spot. Huntington once again reiterated that no one took the final rotation spot in Spring Training and ran with it. Neal mentioned how Glasnow has dominated the Triple-A level and the next step in his growth as a pitcher is to be in the Major Leagues.

Huntington also said that he loves the ceiling of the rotation.

Trevor Williams also came up in this discussion. There could be a time this season when Williams is optioned back to Triple-A in order to remain stretched out and to make starts once again. Huntington reiterated that, right now, Williams is the team’s sixth starting pitcher.

The Triple-A Rotation

When talking about the Triple-A rotation, Neal Huntington mentioned Clay Holmes as a pitcher who can take big steps this year. Holmes needs to work on his changeup, but, as Huntington pointed out, that’s not a rarity for most young power pitchers.

Tyler Eppler was touched on as a pitcher that could help the Pirates in 2017. Once Nick Kingham’s ankle is healthy, he will get stretched back out and join the Triple-A rotation. Huntington also mentioned Kingham as a pitcher that he expects to be capable of helping the Pirates in 2017.

Play Through Four Games

The past two games the Pirates have had some outfield defensive issues. Starling Marte has played a lot of centerfield, this transition does not worry Huntington. Mentioned the adjustment to the new LED lighting at PNC Park as a possibility for some of the outfield issues and he expects the outfielders to improve with that as the season progresses.

“Significantly better than a year ago,” is how Neal Huntington described Josh Bell’s defense at first base. When asked about Adam Frazier’s defense, Huntington said the Pirates believe he is a better defender at both shortstop and second base than he showed last season.

Josh Harrison is more comfortable at third base than Frazier is. Therefore, when David Freese is out of the lineup and Harrison and Frazier are both in it Harrison will man third base while Frazier is at second base.

Will The Pirate Philosophy About Shifting Change?

When asked about the now infamous Sandy Leon bunt in the fifth inning this past Monday Neal Huntington first laughed, and then dove into Pirates’ analytics system.

Huntington touched on how there are “hundred of balls a year” that the Pirates turn into outs that without the shift would not be outs. As usual with the shift, no one notices when it works and shreds it when it does not. Ultimately, it creates a lot more outs than not. Sorry, Dejan.

Speaking of the Leon play, Neal mentioned how he had never gotten a bunt down against the shift before. It was also a perfect play, had the ball been bunted softer Francisco Cervelli make the play and if it’s bunted harder Gerrit Cole makes the play.

The way the Pirate shift is based on the data that their analysts and advanced scouts collect, and then how the coaching staff wants to use it to position the defense. To put it simply, the shift is about putting your defenders where the opposing hitter tends to hit the ball most.

New 10-Day Disabled List

“You’ll probably see a lot more players go on the disabled list,” Huntington said when asked about the new 10-day disabled list. Now that a player who will be healthy after 9 or 10 days will not have to sit on the disabled list for an additional 5 or 6 days. He and Greg Brown both mentioned how this can create more opportunities for minor league players as well.

As a result of the 10-day disabled list, the Pirates will be more aggressive with their roster management. It will also allow players to get healthier more quickly, due to the likelihood of them being put on the disabled list is now greater.

Next: Pirates 6, Braves 4

First pitch from PNC Park this afternoon is scheduled for 1:35 PM. Gerrit Cole will take the ball for the Pirates and he will be opposed by Julio Teheran. Both pitchers will be making their second start of the 2017 season.