While it is unknown when baseball operations will resume around MLB, there are some Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers who can benefit from the suspension of play
We are now in day two of no baseball. After Major League Baseball suspended Spring Training games on Thursday and announced the start of the regular season would be pushed back at least two weeks due to the spread of COVID-19, the baseball season has come to a screeching halt during a time of the year it is usually doing the complete opposite. This, obviously, includes life for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While no players, fans, coaches, or front office staff are happy to see baseball put on pause, there are a few Pirate pitchers that could benefit from this pause. This is because this pause in play could give these pitchers time to get healthy.
Entering Spring Training reliever Clay Holmes found himself out of minor league options. Due to this, the spring was going to be vital for Holmes. In 2.1 innings pitched this spring Holmes did not allow a hit, any runs, and he did not issue a walk. He did hit a batter, but he also recorded a strikeout.
Holmes has always had plus stuff as a reliever and a high ceiling. This spring, his stuff was looking the best it ever had and he appeared to be on his way to pitching his way onto the Opening Day roster.
However, this all changed for Holmes on February 29th. In an outing against the Minnesota Twins a Nelson Cruz ground ball hit Holmes in the foot. This left Holmes with a foot fracture and was going to cost him 4-to-6 weeks.
This timeline put Holmes on a timeline to return to baseball activities and potentially start a rehab stint around April 12th. Well, unfortunately, there is zero chance there is baseball being played by April 12th. As long as Holmes can continue his rehab in Pirate City, just as Jameson Taillon will do as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John Surgery, then whenever Opening Day does get here, Holmes should be ready to go.
Another pitcher that can benefit from the suspension of play is lefty Steven Brualt. Brault entered the spring competing with Derek Holland and Chad Kuhl for the final spot in the Pirate rotation. Holland pitched well for the Pirates in Grapefruit League games which was most likely going to land him the final spot in the team’s rotation.
However, Holland’s spot really seemed to be solidified on March 2nd. This was due to the Pirates announcing that Brault would be shut down with a left shoulder strain. While Brault was only expected to be sidelined for two weeks, this was going to be enough to keep him from being ready for Opening Day.
Odds are, Holland will still be in the team’s rotation when the season begins. But now that he should be healthy and ready to go, Brault will likely still find himself on the Opening day roster. While he has minor league options remaining, he has nothing to gain from a trip back to Triple-A Indy. Assuming he gets healthy, look for Brault to join Holmes in the Opening Day bullpen.
The aforementioned Kuhl could also benefit from this break. As he returns from Tommy John Surgery, the Pirates appeared committed to bringing Kuhl back slowly this camp. Due to this it did not appear that he would be ready to start games when the regular season began. If Kuhl can continue to pitch and get stretch out during this time, he could throw a wrench into the team’s Opening Day rotation plans