JVB Back to Indy; Who’s Pitching for the Indians?

The Associated Press is reporting that the Pirates optioned John Van Benschoten back to Indianapolis this afternoon, but have yet to make a corresponding roster move.
With Shawn Chacon, Salomon Torres and Damaso Marte all being mentioned in trade talks, the Pirates’ pitching staff is relatively short-handed. Trading three relievers (without receiving any in return) would blow a hole wide open in the major-league bullpen. More than likely, the arms at Indianapolis would be asked to fill out the 12-man staff.
Let’s look at what the Indian relievers have been doing this season to better gauge who might have earned a promotion:

 

IP

ERA

H

BB

K

Jonah Bayliss

15.1

6.46

17

8

11

Jesse Chavez

62.0

3.34

69

15

48

Marty McLeary

80.1

3.81

72

38

59

Franquelis Osoria

51.2

2.44

48

17

31

Juan Perez

37.2

5.26

39

17

37

Brian Rogers

45.2

3.94

35

24

41

Josh Sharpless

46.2

4.05

43

33

46

Michael Tejera

83.1

3.78

83

30

46

John Wasdin

35.1

6.37

43

3

40

The first thing that jumps out is what seems to be a lack of control from every pitcher in the Pirates’ organization. Our major-league club can’t throw strikes; look at the ratios here, too. Too many walks.
The San Diego Padres just acquired three pitchers from the Milwaukee Brewers in a trade for Scott Linebrink. All three were somewhat unremarkable minor-league arms with questionable “stuff.” What’s undeniable, though, is that they all fill up the zone with strikes.
Kevin Towers, the Padres’ general manager, realizes that if a pitcher has control, you can teach him how to survive in professional baseball. (Look at Trevor Hoffman.) What the Pirates don’t seem to understand is that if a pitcher has no clue where the ball’s going, he’s not going to have much success.
That being said, Jesse Chavez and Wasdin stick out as pitchers who have a good bit of control. Chavez is a kid who, if he were on the 40-man roster, almost certainly would’ve gotten a shot by now. Wasdin’s had his cup of coffee and got shelled. He’s only walked three batters in Triple-A because everything he puts over the plate gets hammered.
As the Pirates retool their roster over the next few days, I’d think they’d take a long look at Chavez and Franquelis Osoria, the only young relievers we haven’t seen in Pittsburgh this year. It might be time to test both at the next level.
John Wasdin, Marty McLeary and Michael Tejera could be used to eat innings, too, as they’re nothing more than veteran filler. Jim Tracy could throw these three to the dogs every other day without feeling too badly about the situation.
All five would need to be added to the 40-man roster before being called up to Pittsburgh.
Jonah Bayliss, Juan Perez, Brian Rogers and Josh Sharpless are all on the 40-man, but probably aren’t ready to return to the show. Hopefully Dave Littlefield will be able to manage his roster such that a player’s development isn’t sacrificed for a short-term fix.

Read More

Van Benschoten Down, Armas to Enter Rotation

Per the AP: The Pittsburgh Pirates sent John Van Benschoten to Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday, a day after the right-hander lost his fifth straight decision. … The Pirates plan to make a roster move Sunday to replace Van Benschoten. Tony Armas Jr. will take his spot in the rotation and start Wednesday night against St. Louis. With deadline deals possibly in the works, I suppose it makes sense to wait to make a roster move...

Read More

Game #102 at Phillies

Citizens Bank Park | 7:05 | Youman vs. J.D. Durbin | Box It was good: Pirates third: Castillo struck out. Wilson popped out to shortstop Rollins. Youman walked. McLouth singled to right, Youman to second. Sanchez homered to left on a 1-1 count, Youman scored, McLouth scored. LaRoche singled to right. Bay walked on a full count, LaRoche to second. Nady singled to center, LaRoche scored, Bay to second. Doumit struck out. …and then...

Read More

Four Days Left to Talk; Will Bucs Make a Move?

I’ve been keeping an eye on rumor-centric sites (Tim Dierkes’ is particularly good; I read one on Yahoo!, too), wondering when and if the Pirates are going to make a move this year. I think it’s safe to say there are but three Pirates on the market:  Shawn Chacon, Salomon Torres and Damaso Marte.  That’s probably the order in which Littlefield would like to move them, too. I don’t think...

Read More

Game #101 at Phillies; Van Benschoten Returns

Citizens Bank Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Moyer | Box Never have 6 hits and 4 walks over 2.1 innings looked so good. John Van Benschoten allowed the first three Phillies he faced to reach base, and I’m sure everyone wearing black and gold was wondering if he’d stick around long enough to record an out. Then, after a visit from Jim Colborn, Ryan Howard struck out. So did Pat Burrell. All of a sudden, Van Benschoten was...

Read More

Bullington, Herrera Moving in Opposite Directions?

Two of the Pirates’ prominent right-handed pitching prospects threw on Thursday night. Both put up similar lines, working into (and past) the sixth inning, allowing a lot of hits and maintaining a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio.
I was curious to see how Bryan Bullington and Yoslan Herrera were progressing in the 2007 season, and I was a little surprised when I checked First Inning and saw the results.

Bullington

2007

Herrera

10

W

6

5

L

5

106.2

IP

93.1

105

H

108

42

BB

30

63

K

50

4.05

ERA

4.53

Bullington, outside of his control issues, looks to be the superior pitcher. His pedigree as a first overall draft pick makes that somewhat easy to believe, especially as a 26-year-old minor-league veteran still throwing in Triple-A (as compared to Herrera, who just arrived in America this season and is in his first go-around in our professional leagues after a two-year hiatus from baseball ).
But look at how they’ve progressed through the year, courtesy of Minor League Splits:

Bullington

IP

H

BB

K

AVG

OPS

ERA

April

29.3

26

12

14

.236

.612

1.17

May

29.3

26

12

20

.232

.649

3.72

June

13.7

17

9

8

.304

.918

8.79

July

16.3

19

6

10

.288

.771

5.48

Bullington started hot, then cooled off a bit in June as he experienced discomfort in his right arm. It’s encouraging to see that he’s back in a groove of sorts, but he’s still not where he was in May. At that point, Pirate fans wanted to see him in the big-league rotation—he was throwing well.
Herrera, on the other hand, has shown steady improvement:

Herrera

IP

H

BB

K

AVG

OPS

ERA

April

18.7

28

5

12

.341

.894

8.05

May

25.0

29

9

14

.276

.796

4.39

June

24.3

26

7

14

.280

.677

3.60

July

14.7

15

9

7

.250

.640

2.78

OPS, as defined by Wikipedia: “Both the ability of a player to get on base and to hit for power, two important hitting skills, are represented [in on-base plus slugging percentage], making it an effective way of measuring the offensive worth of a player.”
Players have been worth less offensively against Herrera as the season’s gone on. Let’s hope that trend continues; and let’s hope, too, that Bullington continues to return to his early-season form. With little right-handed pitching past Ian Snell in the organization, the Pirates desperately need arms like these to pan out.
The Pirates have a somewhat significant investment in Herrera, so I wouldn’t expect a promotion to be imminent. At the same time, though, it looks as if Yoslan’s starting to master Double-A. His control is suspect—but what Pirate prospect’s isn’t? When he begins to walk fewer batters (something that will happen as he regains “feel” for his pitches), it’ll be time to shift Herrera to Indianapolis for a new challenge. Until then, there’s no rush.
I would expect Bullington to remain in Triple-A for the remainder of the year, perhaps earning a cup of coffee in late September as a reward for a solid comeback season.

Read More