Injuries Continue To Pile Up For The Pittsburgh Pirates

SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 16: Trevor Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park May 16, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 16: Trevor Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park May 16, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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20 different players have now spent time on the injured list this season for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Trevor Williams started for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the San Diego Padres on Thursday night. In typical Trevor fashion, he was cruising along through 3 2/3 innings pitched. However, this is when things went off the rails.

After recording a strikeout, Williams exited the game with a side injury. He has now been placed on the 10-day injured list with a right side strain. This makes Williams the 20th different Pirate player to go on the IL this season.

Since joining the Pirate rotation in May of 2017 Williams has become one of the best starting pitchers in the National League. This season Williams owns a 3.33 ERA, 3.30 FIP, and a 1.4 fWAR in 54 innings pitched. In his last 65 starts Williams owns a 3.47 ERA, 3.80 FIP, and a 6.7 fWAR in 363 1/3 innings of work. Last season, he led the Majors

With Williams on the IL, this leaves the Pirates with just three starting pitchers. He joins Jameson Taillon on the IL, and Chris Archer just came off the IL and pitched poorly in his return this past Wednesday. A starting rotation that was once a strength for the Pirates has suddenly become a major concern.

To replace Williams on the 25-man roster, right-handed reliever Clay Holmes was recalled from Triple-A. Holmes had just been optioned to Triple-A on Wednesday for the returning Archer. In two outings for the Pirates this season Holmes has allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on four hits, four walks, a home run, and four strikeouts in 4 innings of work.

Joining Holmes on the trip from Indy is reliever Geoff Hartlieb. Promoting Hartlieb is a move the Pirates should have made a few weeks ago. In 19 innings pitched this season at Triple-A Hartlieb owns a 3.32 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 59.9% groundball rate, and a 27.4% strikeout rate.

Hartlieb replaces the struggling Richard Rodriguez, who was optioned to Triple-A. After being one of the NL’s surprise breakout players in 2018 (2.47 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 31.5% strikeout rate in 69 1/3 innings pitched), he has been awful this season. He owns a 5.49 ERA, 8.30 FIP, and his strikeout rate has plummeted to 17.6% in 19 2/3 innings pitched. Additionally, after allowing just five home runs all of last season he had already allowed eight this season.

Despite his struggles, for some reason, Clint Hurdle continued to pitch him in high leverage situations. This included in last night’s 4-3 loss when Rodriguez allowed a go ahead three-run home run to Ian Kinsler with two outs in the bottom of the 6th inning with the Pirates leading 2-1.

Next. Cam Vixeau Impressing At Double-A. dark

Right now the Pirates only have three sure fire reliable relief pitchers in Francisco Liriano, Kyle Crick, and Felipe Vazquez. Moving forward, Hurdle should not be afraid to use Hartlieb or fellow rookie Montana DuRapau (five strikeouts, four hits, and 1 run allowed in 4 2/3 MLB innings pitched) in high leverage situations to see what they can do. Not only has the rest of the bullpen struggled, Hartlieb and DuRapau could also be big parts of the Pirate bullpen moving forward.