Brandon Cumpton Pirates

Pirates Recall Brandon Cumpton, DFA Vin Mazzaro

The Pittsburgh Pirates have recalled right-handed pitcher Brandon Cumpton from Triple-A Indianapolis. Cumpton will make today’s start, and is expected to be a permanent member of the rotation going forward, for as long as he performs in the role. To make room on the 25-man roster, the Pirates have designated Vin Mazzaro for assignment.

I wrote about Cumpton yesterday, noting that he has the opportunity to remain in the rotation for good. If he performs well this year, then there will be no one pushing him out of the rotation the rest of the season. Next year the Pirates have three open rotation spots, and Cumpton could easily take one of those spots with a good performance in 2014.

An interesting note: by my calculations, Cumpton would end the year with less than a year of service time if he remains in the majors the rest of the season. He’d have 167 days of service time, by my estimate. That means he’d be under control through the 2020 season, rather than the 2019 season if he would have come up last week. He would also be a Super Two player after the 2016 season. That’s not as big of a concern for someone like Cumpton, since he doesn’t project to be an impact player, and thus wouldn’t see the massive increase in salary that someone like Gregory Polanco projects to see.

The move to DFA Mazzaro is strange. The Pirates had an extra reliever, so you knew sending a reliever down would be the corresponding move here. However, Jared Hughes looked like the obvious choice to be sent down, since he was the only reliever with options remaining. Hughes has a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings, bit that is supported by a very low strikeout rate, which isn’t what you want to see from a reliever. Mazzaro had a 3.48 ERA in 10.1 innings, with a 6.1 K/9 and a 4.4 BB/9. The walks aren’t something you want from a reliever. From a depth perspective, it would make sense to keep both players, and the best way to do that is to send down Hughes.

With Mazzaro gone, the Pirates now have two open spots on the 40-man roster. He could be outrighted to Indianapolis if he clears waivers, which is what happened after Spring Training. He could also elect free agency if no team claims him, but he’d forfeit the rest of his $950,000 salary this year. He didn’t do that last time, and if no team claims him this time, then he’d have a hard time finding a team willing to sign him as a free agent for more than he’s currently getting from the Pirates.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • leadoff

    I don’t understand Mazzaro getting dfa. IMO, the worst bullpen pitcher the Pirates have is Morris, can’t be depended on for anything, it is time the Pirates quit looking at upside and made moves on the here and now. Long relief, to me is more important to this team than a one inning pitcher that does not have any idea how to get 3 outs in a row, since none of their starters can be counted on to go more than 6 innings. Apparently the Pirates think a guy like Mazzaro would be someone they could easily pick up or move someone like Sadler into that role.

    • Chris Hale

      Morris may have his troubles but his upside is also a lot higher. At some point you’d think it would click for Morris. I think it’s nerves in high pressure spots. His numbers have always been decent. If the light goes off we have a solid back end reliever to go with Wilson and Watson for the next hand full of years. We need those types with Melancon and Grilli being so shaky at times. Grilli’s gone after this year not sure when we will lose Melancon.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Leadoff- Think. Have you watched Morris pitch? He’s got stuff, he’s got MAD stuff. 97 mph fastball, a good sinker, a splitter, and a curve, and a 2 seamer. You don’t get rid of a kid like, that, you give him all the time he needs. This is STILL his second year as a ML pitcher.

      • piraddict

        “97 mph fastball, a good sinker, a splitter, and a curve, and a 2 seamer”…All true, except when in games, with men on base, when it counts. Some players are good in practice, then fold in games. It’s a mental thing. Let’s hope Morris doesn’t suffer from that malady.

  • Chris Hale

    I don’t understand this move at all.We could have sent down Hughes and kept he and Mazzaro. Hughes is pitching well especially with inherited runners but the only reason I can come up with is they plan on making a trade or adding someone from Indy or Altoona to the 40 man. I can’t think of anyone who’s not already on the 40 man who could help us more than Mazzaro

    • Ecbucs

      I guess they wanted to have someone fresher in bullpen today (not trusting Cumpton enough to be able to go 6 innings). Maybe they figure either no one will claim Vin (although I find that unlikely) or expect 2 teams to claim him and think they can get some talent back. Sending Hughes down seemed like most logical move to me.

      • piraddict

        Why not Jeanmar Gomez? He hasn’t been the same pitcher this year.

    • Y2JGQ2

      I don’t get it either. I don’t think they want to lose Mazzaro, my guess is there is an understanding that, if he accepts his assignment (which he will if he isn’t claimed) he will be back up later like he was before. He don’t need him, but he’s nice to have, luckily at a million not too many teams want to pay a middle reliever that money. He’ll be non-tendered after the season and possibly resigned at 500K/year or he’ll go somewhere else

  • R Edwards

    Mazzaro is a lot better than Hughes or Gomez IMHO – I don’t get this team’s decisions this year.

  • bucsws2014

    Huh. Dan Zangrilli on the post-show yesterday was having a hard time identifying a player of the game for the Bucs, so he went with Mazzaro for providing 3+ IP of yeoman’s work with only one run.

    With the way Frankie’s been pitching, a long reliever is going to see a lot of action with this team. This move makes no sense.

    I’d rather the Bucs go dig up Chris Resop from under whatever rock he’s hiding than see Morris in another game where he has to keep a runner from scoring.

  • Andrew

    Wouldn’t the Pirates have the same decision when Pimentel comes off the DL, he has been sent on a rehab assignment? I assume Hughes will go down then, and the Pirates wanted a pitcher who would be available to pitch today and tomorrow. Mazzaro was going to be DFA’d at some point.

    Morris, Hughes Mazzaro, these guys just aren’t good, they don’t get strikeouts, struggle with control and any success is predicted on limiting contact and low BABIPs, pretty much replacement level relievers I cannot really get worked up about this.

    • bucsws2014

      You can bring Hughes in with guys on base. You can use Mazzaro for long relief. What can you use Morris for?

      • Andrew

        Jared Hughes and Bryan Morris are effectively the same pitcher, about 5.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, GB% around 60%, the only difference, is the Pirates for some reason think Morris is great n high leverage situations. Both look serviceable when the ground balls aren’t finding holes. I wouldn’t trust either with men in scoring position.

        Mazzaro’s K and BB rates are the same as the other two with a lower groundball rate, the guy is a middle reliever, these are the worst pitchers in the game. I really don’t see the concern in losing this guy, if he was so valuable maybe another team would have picked him up last time through waivers.

      • Andrew

        Actually you are right, I’m not sure what Morris is good for. His K% – BB% rate is the 2nd lowest of any reliever who has thrown 80+ innings over the last two plus seasons. I know we keep hearing about his “stuff” but he is going to have to show some results soon.

  • dr dng

    Any chance Chris Dickerson gets added to the 40 man roster?

    • piraddict

      Would be smart if they have any plans to use him. They’ll have to drop Snyder when they bring Polanco up. That’s one outfielder out of the depth mix, it would be good to have Dieckerson accesible. The way he has been playing in AAA he would be better for the team than either Snyder or Tabata.

      • dr dng

        I’ve never seen him play, and I’ve ask several people, how did this guy get in the Pirates organization? If the Pirates do not need him, I would think some other team would. Based on his resume and his numbers this year, I’d think that he may be needed with the Pirates this season or in September call-ups.

  • Jared

    Cumpton was very very good today. Had a great seat to be able to see him…and he was very good. With a lil help from the D he could’ve gone even longer.

    • SportOMania

      I was at the game too. What impressed me most is Cumpton kept his composure after the replay reversal and with the poor fielding behind him. This kid never seems to lose his cool.

  • Doug

    A journeyman reliever with a career ERA of 4.70, and one good season before this one, was put on waivers…the sky is falling!!!!

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