Welcome back to the weekly Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag here at Rum Bunter
It is that time once again. It’s Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag time! When could Chris Archer and Corey Dickerson return? Could Montana DuRapau help settle down the bullpen? How will the back of the bullpen shake out without Keone Kela? And more!
As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions this week and participated. Now, lets dive in.
Archer threw a bullpen session earlier this week. He is slated to pitch a simulated game on Friday in St. Louis. After this, the Pirates will have a better idea on when he may return. If all goes well Friday, odds are, Archer will make a start next week in Arizona.
As for Dickerson, he has started to throw again. However, he is not making long throws or testing his shoulder much. He still appears to be a ways away. Luckily, Bryan Reynolds and Melky Cabrera have been fantastic in his absence.
When it comes to Steven Brault, he certainly pitched better than anyone could have asked for on Tuesday night against Texas. That said, it is still difficult to trust his as a starting pitcher based on his track record. While using an opener is something I’d love to see the Pirates consider, it’s hard to envision Clint Hurdle ever being on board with that.
If they would go the opener route with Brault, with Kingham set to follow, it could make sense. In his career the 1st inning has always been Kingham’s worst. Also, Brault, for all his shortcomings, is good against left-handed hitters. So, a lineup with LHHs at the top could be a recipe for success for Brault.
Once Archer is back, I would not hate it if the Pirates gave that a try. Adding a starting pitcher would be the best option, but trying to use Brualt as an opener for Kingham is certainly an intriguing thought.
DuRapau is certainly an intriguing arm. In 14 1/3 innings pitched at Triple-A this season he allowed five singles, zero extra base hits, he walked five, and struck out 18. This gave him a 0.63 ERA and a 2.71 FIP for the Indianapolis Indians. DuRapau also looked good in 2 innings of relief in last night’s loss.
Success is nothing new to DuRapau, either. He posted a 1.49 ERA, 2.32 FIP, and a 26.0% strikeout rate for Double-A Altoona in 2017. Then in 2018, he posted a 2.89 ERA, 2.58 FIP, and a 35.1% strikeout rate for the Curve.
Right now, the Pirates only have three reliable relievers in Francisco Liriano, Kyle Crick, and Felipe Vazquez. Maybe a fourth in Richard Rodriguez if he can get back on track. DuRapau has the stuff to give the team another reliable reliever. Hopefully, he can put it all together at the MLB level and do just that.
Additionally, it would be worth Hurdle giving him an opportunity. The Pirate bullpen has been so up and down this season, and, between injuries and ineffectiveness, is currently a mess. It’s worth giving DuRapau and opportunity to see if he can pitch effectively at the MLB level. If he proves he can, it could be a huge shot in the arm to the ‘pen.
When Kela went on the injured list, the Pirates claimed they would mix and match Crick and Vazquez in the 8th and 9th innings. To be honest, I do not believe them at all. I do not for one second believe Hurdle will not remain married to the neanderthal thinking ways of having a ‘closer’ and only using him in a ‘save’ situation. Wednesday afternoon’s disaster only further fed into this belief.
With Kela out, you can expect Crick to pitch the 8th inning and Vazquez the 9th. Hurdle has never once proven to be flexible or creativity with his bullpen management. There is zero reason to expect that to change now.
Colin Moran has struggled as an every day player since being traded to the Pirates, but he has not struggled at all as a pinch hitter. In 44 career plate appearances as a pinch hitter, Moran owns a .368/.455/.658 slash line.
Wednesday’s pinch hit home run was the 3rd of his career. It raised his career ISO as a pinch hitter to an impressive .289. If nothing else, the Pirates have gotten one hell of a pinch hitter in Moran.
This is something Moran deserves a lot of credit for. There are few things in sports more difficult than pinch hitting. To his credit, Moran has excelled at it in his career.
That will do it for this week. If you ever have a question for the mailbag, look for our Tweet each week asking for questions. Also, do not be afraid to ever ask a question on Twitter or Facebook.