Pittsburgh Pirates Place Duane Underwood Jr. on the Injured List
By Marty Leap
It has not taken long for the injury bug to bite the Pittsburgh Pirates who had to put a reliever on the injured list prior to the second game of the season
The first injury of the season has already occurred for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Luckily, the team avoided a scare with newly extended third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes who left Thursday’s season opener with a cramping issue. However, they were not as lucky with relief pitcher Duane Underwood Jr.
In Thursday afternoon’s loss Underwood Jr. allowed a double to the first batter he faced. After throwing one more pitch, Derek Shelton and the training staff quickly rushed to the mound to check on him. Underwood Jr. would throw one practice pitch before exiting the game.
This comes as a potential tough blow to the Pirate bullpen. During spring training Underwood Jr. was a pitcher that the Pirate staff was raving about, thanks in large part to the velocity he added this offseason.
Underwood Jr. also serves as a reliever who can pitch in multiple different roles for the Pirates. Last season Underwood Jr. was able to pitch as both a long reliever and in short relief for the Shelton.
In his debut season with the Pirates the righty posted a 4.33 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 8.4% walk rate and a 20.3% strikeout rate. All respectable numbers, especially for a reliever who pitched as much as Underwood Jr.
Underwood Jr. pitched 72.2 innings last season. His 72.2 innings pitched was the 13th most among all MLB relievers, and ranked 6th among all National League relievers. The only reliever on the Pirate roster to pitch more innings than Underwood Jr. last season was Chris Stratton. Losing Underwood Jr. will be a big blow to the Pirate bullpen as he was one of Shelton’s go to and most trusted relievers.
To take Underwood Jr.’s place on the active roster the Pirates have promoted top pitching prospect Roansy Contreras to the majors. Last season Contreras was dominant in the minors, before pitching 3 scoreless innings in his lone MLB start last September. While it remains to be seen what the Pirates will do with Contreras it is hard to envision him being called up and not making starts for the Pirates.