Pittsburgh Pirates: Time for Cody Bolton’s Opportunity
By Marty Leap
With Zach Thompson hitting the injured list it’s time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to give an opportunity to pitching prospect Cody Bolton
Prior to the start of Monday’s game against the Chicago Cubs the Pittsburgh Pirates placed starting pitcher Zach Thompson on the 15-day injured list with right forearm nerve inflammation. This was done in order to help create a roster spot for Oneil Cruz and Bligh Madris. Infielder Liover Peguero was also optioned back to Double-A Altoona.
Thompson was acquired from the Miami Marlins in the Jacob Stallings trade. So far this season he had pitched in 13 games, 12 starts, posting a 4.47 ERA and a 5.58 FIP in 54.1 innings pitched. However, since May 1st he’s posted a 2.48 ERA while limiting opposing batters to an average exit velocity of just 87.3 MPH in 40 innings pitched across 9 appearances, 8 of which have been starts.
With a spot now open in the Pirate starting rotation the most obvious choice to replace Thompson would appear to be right-hander Cody Bolton. Once one of the organization’s top pitching prospects, he is one who was hurt immensely by the lost COVID season in 2020. After not pitching at all due to the pandemic in 2020, Bolton missed all of 2021 due to knee surgery.
This led to Bolton in dire need of a big bounce back campaign in 2020. To his credit, Bolton has done just that thus far. By answering the questions that needed answers and looking healthy, Bolton has earned this opportunity.
The 24-year-old Bolton has pitched in 14 games at Triple-A Indianapolis this season with 9 of them being starts. He has pitched 41.1 innings, posting a 3.05 ERA and a 3.45 FIP. While he has struggled some with command (12.8% walk rate), he has responded by generating plenty of swing and miss with a strong 26.7% strikeout rate. He has also kept the ball in the park having allowed just 1 home run this season.
Had it not been for him missing two entire seasons between a global pandemic and injury, odds are, Bolton would have already made his MLB debut. Even though his debut has been delayed, now is still as good a time as any for that to happen.
If Bolton is not who they go with to replace Thompson then it would likely be Bryse Wilson. Well, in 33.2 MLB innings pitched this season Wilson has posted an 8.29 ERA, 5.27 FIP, has walked 9.2% of batters faced and struck batters out at just a 16.6% clip. He has also struggled with the long ball allowing 6 home runs (1.60 HR/9).
It’s safe to say no Pirate fan wants to see Wilson over Bolton at this point. To be honest, it would be a bit of an injustice. Bolton has done all he can to earn a promotion while Wilson has failed with each opportunity he has been given.
At this point there is no reason for the Pittsburgh Pirates to not give Bolton an opportunity. There is a spot open in the team’s starting rotation, Bolton has pitched extremely well at Triple-A, and promoting him would just be the latest step in the youth movement. Do the right thing, Pirates, and give Bolton his opportunity.