Should Pirates Promote Chris Leroux to be the Long Man?

After Erik Bedard was pulled from the game on Saturday having pitched just 4.2 innings and allowing five runs, a question was raised — who will pitch from the bullpen for length? The Pirates optioned Jeff Locke to Triple-A on Thursday, who made two appearances in his stay in the Majors in long relief for the club.

Both Jared Hughes and Chris Resop can pitch two innings a piece usually, but Resop came in for relief on Friday deeming him only available for an inning. Hughes stepped up big for the Pirates on Saturday tossing 2.1 perfect frames with a strikeout. But Hughes isn’t normally their length arm. The right-hander has served in the role on occasion, but with Kevin Correia still in the six-man rotation, Pittsburgh doesn’t really have an arm that can pitch deep into the game when needed.

So should the Pirates promote Chris Leroux?

Leroux has been starting at Triple-A, and has put up impressive numbers. Over five starts, Leroux has allowed just five runs on 20 hits over 30 innings (1.50 ERA). He’s also walked five batters to 22 strikeouts. And in relief, the right-hander has been solid posting a 3.32 ERA. He struggled when he was first designated for assignment by Pittsburgh, after coming off the 60-day disabled list. But Leroux rebounded with a 2.22 ERA in the month of July before moving into the rotation.

The Pirates currently already have six starters in the Majors, with Jeff Locke and Justin Wilson in Triple-A that could step in if needed. So if, or when, Leroux is called upon he would be used in relief. The Pirates currently have a spot open on the 40-man roster open, so there wouldn’t be an issue adding him.

“We stretched him out in the Dominican last year with the idea to develop his slider and his changeup, which was a pitch he hadn’t used very often,”” General Manager Neal Huntington said on why Leroux was moved into the rotation. “He had expressed interest in starting, but his out of option status, it was tough to bring him into the spring training and have him compete. He basically made the club, but he got hurt in his last outing in spring training. As we brought him back, it’s tough to get him stretched out with a 30 day rehab.”

“We were shocked when he cleared waivers. When he cleared waivers, he talked about how he wanted to be extended again. He was so effective as we extended him that we decided to start him. He deserves all the credit in the world. I know he gives a lot of it to Jim Benedict and to our pitching coach, but Chris deserves all the credit in the world. He has become a viable option for us. He’s one of many. We believe he is going to help us at some point this summer.”

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