Pittsburgh Pirates: Should Claim Pitcher Zac Curtis
Editorial: The Pittsburgh Pirates made a waiver claim yesterday by adding relief pitcher Jack Leathersich. There is another intriguing arm that was put on waivers for the Bucs to consider.
Yesterday, the Seattle Mariners designated left-handed relief pitcher Zac Curtis for assignment. Should the Pittsburgh Pirates consider claiming him? Curtis is a 26-year-old pitcher who was a sixth round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. The pitcher originally was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. However, the D’Backs dealt the lefty to the Mariners this past off-season. Curtis was the third piece, with Arizona also sending Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger, in their trade with Seattle for pitcher Taijuan Walker and infielder Ketel Marte.
Curtis was never given a real shot with the Mariners. The M’s designated him yesterday when they picked up another recently designated prospect from the Chicago Cubs. Sometimes, teams are forced to make moves that they are not thrilled to do. We saw the Pittsburgh Pirates have to let go of Alen Hanson for nothing earlier this year.
Curtis’ numbers suggest that he could make an interesting left-handed relief option in the major leagues. This year in the Mariners system Curtis threw in 41 games and 51.2 innings, having an earned run average of 3.51 with a FIP of 3.20. His numbers get really impressive when you look at his strikeout rate. This year he has struck out 10.52 per nine innings pitched, and this goes along with his career number of 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He also has walked 3.33 batters per nine innings this year, and overall in his minor league career he has walked 3.0.
Curtis has not compiled a ton of innings in the majors yet. He made his début in 2016 for the Diamondbacks, appearing in 21 games, and compiling 13.1 innings. He did not have a ton of success, giving up 10 earned runs, including two home runs, in his limited action. The main issue was that he also walked 13 batters, leading his WHIP to be a very high 1.95. He did make three appearances for the Mariners this season, throwing 4.2 innings, but he did not give up any runs. The left hander only walked one batter, which is better than his 2016 rate, but the sample size is incredibly small and not reliable.
Now Curtis has had some major league experience which is why the Bucs should look at him. The team does not have a true left-handed option in their bullpen. Wade LeBlanc is the only one that represents a left-handed middle inning reliever, but the Bucs put him on waivers recently. This shows that they do not really have him in their plans going forward. Curtis could represent a more upside option than LeBlanc, and he would be cheaper with more years of control. It is September, the Bucs are out of it, now is the time to cut some dead weight and try to find someone who can help this team next year.