The Pittsburgh Pirates have recalled Bryan Morris and designated Chris Leroux for assignment, per a team press release. Morris will be active for tonight’s game. The Pirates have a somewhat depleted bullpen right now. Justin Wilson and Jeanmar Gomez both went multiple innings earlier in the week in place of Wandy Rodriguez. Jason Grilli threw several days in a row this week. Morris should add a fresh arm to the mix.
In his brief time in Triple-A, Morris had thrown three shutout innings, with two strikeouts. He throws a mid-90s fastball and an upper 80s cutter that’s a good strikeout pitch. Morris had very little to learn in Triple-A, and was pretty much sent down because he had options remaining.
Leroux was out of options, and you can’t fault the Pirates for giving him a shot. He’s had strong secondary ratios since joining the club, with a high strikeout rate and a low walk rate. Last year he struggled returning from a pectoral strain, which lowered his velocity and forced him to rely more on his slider. The velocity bounced back some this year (92.1 MPH vs 91.2 MPH last year), but wasn’t to the point it was before the injury (93.6 MPH). He was also throwing 50% sliders in his limited innings, and had six walks in four innings.
If Leroux clears waivers, the Pirates can try to outright him to Triple-A. However, since this would be the second time he’s been outrighted, he could refuse and declare free agency. He obviously wasn’t doing well in the early part of this season, but I still like the potential of Leroux. Before the injury he looked like a good sleeper reliever. If the Pirates can retain him, and if he can get back to where he was in 2011, he could emerge as a good option for the bullpen later in the year.
As for Morris, you’d like to see him up for good, getting work in the middle innings and eventually moving to the late inning roles where his stuff definitely plays. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s only up for a short time. The Pirates may need a spot starter for Wandy Rodriguez. If they go with a Wilson/Gomez combo again, they will deplete their bullpen again this week. That leaves a spot starter from Triple-A as an alternative, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Morris goes back down when a spot starter is needed.