Pittsburgh Pirates Mailbag: April 10th, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 05: Steven Brault
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 05: Steven Brault /

Welcome to this week’s Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag Q&A

The Pittsburgh Pirates are off to a blazing hot start this season. The Bucs currently sit first place in the National League Central with a 7-2 record. After Monday’s snow out, they will begin a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs at 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday.

Before first pitch this afternoon, though, how about this week’s Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag! As always, thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s mailbag. Now let’s begin!

These two questions go hand in hand so we’ll tackle them together.

Joe Musgrove has yet to start a rehab assignment. However, when he does, the Pirates will be building him up to enter the rotation.

Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle are very high on Musgrove as a starting pitcher. This is why he was slated to begin the year in the rotation with Steven Brault in the bullpen. So, when Musgrove gets healthy, you can expect him to be in the starting rotation. The only way Musgrove does not pitch in the rotation this year is if his health does not allow it.

Now, who Musgrove will replace in the rotation when he gets healthy is another topic. If Brault keeps pitching well, it will be tough to take him out of the rotation. However, neither Trevor Williams nor Chad Kuhl have done anything in their past 25 starts to garner being removed from the rotation.

The team’s worst starting pitcher is currently Ivan Nova and has been Nova for some time. However, he is the team’s highest paid starting pitcher as well so he is not going anywhere.

When Musgrove is healthy he will be in the rotation, the only question who will he replace. Usually, these things work themselves out.

Definitely as a bench player. While Adam Frazier is about a league average hitter in his career (.325 wOBA, 100 wRC+), an average defensive outfielder, and a below average defensive second baseman. Combine all of this with his lack of power (lifetime .118 ISO, .401 slugging percentage) and his future is off the bench.

This bullpen has plenty of talent. Felipe Rivero is one of the best relievers in baseball, George Kontos has a good track record, and Michael Feliz has filthy stuff. These three create a strong back of the bullpen.

The team’s issues have been in middle relief. And the biggest issue in middle relief is the way it has been managed. Edgar Santana and Tyler Glasnow should be the pitchers being used in high leverage middle relief situations, not Dovydas Neverauskas and Josh Smoker. If Clint Hurdle realizes this and stops using Neverauskas and Smoker in these situations, the bullpen will be much more effective.

Now, that said, those two will still have to pitch at some point. This makes finding relievers to replace them vital. But with Kyle Crick at Triple-A, A.J. Schugel on the disabled list, and the ability to address the bullpen from outside the organization later in the season that can be done.

This one builds off the last question, so it’s a good time for it.

In the past under Clint Hurdle, players have been given more than enough opportunities to right the ship before losing their spots. That is probably when we will see with Dovydas Neverasuaskas and Josh Smoker. Smoker especially will get a long leash due to him being a left-handed pitcher. I would not expect to see any changes to the roster before the end of April.

As for the first player called up, my guess would be the aforementioned Kyle Crick. Tyler Eppler could be a possibility as well. Also, once he is healthy, look for A.J. Schugel to join the bullpen.

Next: Should the Bucs Go Back to a 5 Man Bench?

That will do it for this week. As always, if you have a question for the mailbag look for the Tweet asking for questions for the mailbag each week.