Updates on a Variety of Pittsburgh Pirates Injury Issues
The Pittsburgh Pirates may have lost a lot more than just a game on Sunday afternoon
Despite losing to the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 6-4 on Sunday – knocking the team to 2-7 in their past nine games – the Pittsburgh Pirates still own a 28-24 record. This puts the team just 1.5 games out of a National League Wild Card spot and 5.0 games out of first place in the National League Central Division.
Sunday, however, may prove to be a day where the Pirates lost more than just a game. This is due to reliever Felipe Vazquez leaving the game with a potentially major injury.
With the Pirates leading 4-3 in the top of the 8th inning, Vazquez inherited a bases loaded and just one out mess. A bloop single, two walks, and a fielder’s choice later the Cardinals led 6-5 and Vazquez’s day was over.
As Vazquez walked off the mound he could be seen wincing in pain and he was rubbing his left elbow upon entering the dugout. After the game, Pirate fans learned that Vazquez is dealing with left forearm discomfort.
Head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said after the game that the team is still early in the process of examining Vazquez. However, this is a major red flag. Vazquez has blown a save in three consecutive outings. In each of these outings his velocity has been down and his control has been iffy at best. If he is dealing with some sort of injury that would explain the subpar results this past week.
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Despite his recent struggles, Vazquez still owns a 2.27 FIP and 22 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings pitched this season. Despite the Pirates having a deep, talented bullpen losing Vazquez would be a massive blow to the team’s hopes of contending for the postseason.
Let’s just hope this does not lead to something bigger, such as the dreaded Tommy John Surgery.
Also on the Sunday injury front, general manager Neal Huntington told reporters that the team expects Ivan Nova to be placed on the disabled list with a finger ligament issue before his start against the Cubs on Tuesday.
Nova has been a mess for the Pirates this season owning a 4.96 ERA, 4.27 FIP, and just a 17.6% strikeout rate in 11 starts. Nova is also tied for sixth in the National League in home runs allowed (10) and his 34.6% hard contact allowed rate ranks 10th highest in the league among starting pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched.
If Nova goes on the DL, Nick Kingham will replace him in the Pirate rotation. Kingham was pulled after the 1st inning of his start on Friday at Triple-A Indianapolis. In three Major League starts this season Kingham has been excellent owning a 3.44 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 30.4% strikeout rate, and just a 2.9% walk rate.
Honestly, Kingham should have a permanent spot in the Pirate rotation. So, hopefully, if he does rejoin the rotation on Tuesday it will be for good.