With Gregory Polanco Injured, Jordan Luplow Should Play Every Day

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 11: Gregory Polanco
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 11: Gregory Polanco /

With Gregory Polanco seeming destined for a third disabled list trip this season, Jordan Luplow should get a long look from the Pirates

In Saturday’s Pittsburgh Pirates’ loss against the Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Gregory Polanco exited the game with a hamstring injury. Polanco has already spent time on the disabled list twice this season with a hamstring injury. Now it appears a third trip is on the horizon.

According to Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after Sunday’s loss Polanco was seen in the clubhouse hugging teammates. This led to speculation that he will be getting placed on the disabled list and will not be joining the team in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Assuming Polanco is placed on the disabled list on Tuesday, this should open the door for outfielder Jordan Luplow. All Luplow has done in his minor league career is hit. This led to him earning a promotion to the Major Leagues for a weekend series against the San Diego Padres last month. Now, the time has come for Jordan Luplow to play every day.

Jordan Luplow started the year at Double-A where he hit 16 home runs while posting a .368 on-base percentage, .396 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 145. This led to a promotion to Triple-A where he entered yesterday’s game with a .431 on-base percentage, .453 wOBA, and a 189 wRC+. He has also hit 7 home runs at Triple-A.

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At just 23-years-old, Jordan Luplow could be a big part of the Pirates’ future. Luplow possesses a lot of tools needed to be a good Major League hitter. He is a patient hitter than walks at an above league average pace, he strikes out at a below league average rate, and he has hit for great power in the minor leagues.

With 44 games remaining in the 2017 season the Pittsburgh Pirates own a 58-60 record. This puts them 4 games behind the Chicago Cubs for first place in the National League Central. Even if the Pirates win both series they have remaining against the Cubs, winning the division will be a very tall task.

The fact that starting catcher Francisco Cervelli may end up on the disabled list as well further complicates this. Especially since it is such a large drop off from Cervelli to his backup Chris Stewart and Triple-A catcher Elias Diaz.

For these reasons, while the Pirates should still play for 2017, they should also have an eye toward 2018. One way to do that is to let Jordan Luplow be the team’s everyday right fielder with Gregory Polanco out.

The team’s other options are utility men Adam Frazier and Sean Rodriguez who have proven they are best suited as bench players, Jose Osuna who is a miserable defensive outfielder and the Pirates seem to view strictly as a platoon player, and free agent to be John Jaso who has no business ever playing in the outfield. Rather it is an everyday player or as a fourth outfielder, Jordan Luplow could play a large role in the future of the Pirates and this is a good opportunity for the Pirates to begin to find out what they have in Luplow.

In no way am I predicting this is what the Pirates will do, I am just saying it is what they should do. To be honest, I will be surprised if they do not recall utility infielder Max Moroff and then platoon Frazier and Osuna in right field. But, hopefully, Jordan Luplow will get his opportunity.

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Jordan Luplow has earned the right to be in the Major Leagues. With Gregory Polanco injured, he has earned the right to get a chance as an everyday player in the Major Leagues. Now it is up to the Pittsburgh Pirates to make this happen starting on Tuesday night.