It’s that time of the week again here at Rum Bunter – Pittsburgh Pirates’ mailbag time
Who could be potential September call-ups? Who should be starting at shortstop? And more in this week’s Pittsburgh Pirates’ mailbag.
As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions and participated this week. Now, let’s begin!
There are definitely some obvious choices here. Players such as utility man Max Moroff, relievers Michael Feliz and Steven Brault, and starter Nick Kingham are likely slam dunks to be recalled by the Bucs. I’d bet on seeing Jose Osuna return, too. The newly acquired Buddy Boshers makes sense as well unless he is promoted before September which is a possibility.
There is also a good shot Pirate fans finally get something they have been clamoring for – the promotion of infielders Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer. The Seinfeld duo have been hitting well at Triple-A all season, and not promoting them in September, if not sooner, makes little sense. Especially if the Pirates are still in postseason contention.
I would also bet money on Nick Burdi and A.J. Schugel being activated from the 60-day disabled list in September. Turley will be an intriguing arm to watch as he has all the tools to be a dominant MLB reliever, but has spent all of 2018 rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery. The Bucs also need to get Turley on the active roster before the end of the regular season as he was a Rule 5 Draft selection this past offseason.
As for how these moves will make the team better, well, for one, the additions of Burdi and Schugel can make an already talented Pirate bullpen even deeper. The same can be said about Feliz if he can find his form from the first seven weeks of the season again and Boshers if he can help get left-handed hitters out.
Have an extended bench will also allow Clint Hurdle to be more aggressive with pinch hitting as he will not have to worry about saving hitters for later in the game. The deeper bullpen is a factor here as well.
In all seriousness, right now the Bucs best move would probably be to start Jordy Mercer and then replace him with Hechavarria for defense late in the game. Entering play on Wednesday, both are below league average hitters but Mercer has been responsible for -12 defensive runs saved (DRS) while Hechavarria’s DRS is +4. In their careers Mercer is a -14 DRS player, while Hechavarria is +23.
If healthy, Kang would be the wild card here due to his offensive prowess. But he will not be back in 2018 due to wrist surgery, while both Mercer and Hechavarria are set to become free agents after this season.
So, odds are, Kang will be here next year while the other two will not.
It will depend on his control. There is no denying that Shane Baz has the pure stuff to be a frontline starting pitcher one day, but he needs to harness it more.
In 10 starts last season Baz owned a healthy 18.1% strikeout rate, but he walked 13.3% of batters faced. This season his strikeout rate has risen to 25.5% in nine starts, but his walk rate, while it has dropped, is still too high at 11.7%.
If Baz does not harness his stuff and develop better control he could end up in the bullpen long term. That said, he is only 19-years-old and, odds are, his control will come with time and he’ll continue to project as top of the rotation arm.
That will do it for this week. As always, if you ever have a question for the mailbag look for our Tweets each week asking for mailbag questions.