Casey Sadler May Prove to be a Key Depth Piece in 2015

Right-handed pitcher Casey Sadler started to open eyes with an impressive start to Spring Training, throwing five hitless innings in his first two starts. His hot start was halted in today’s game against Minnesota, during which he gave up three earned runs in 2.1 innings, with two strikeouts and a walk. The big blow came in the first inning, when he allowed a two-run homer to Twins first baseman Kennys Vargas.

The big difference today was Sadler’s inability to consistently keep the ball down in the strike zone. He explained that this typically occurs whenever he is in too big of a hurry on the mound. He said that it is key for him to be patient and focus on driving his sinker down in the zone on a more consistent basis.

Even with today’s poor start factored in, Sadler is looking like a legitimate depth option for the Pirates this year, and now finds himself with a much better shot at cracking the rotation at some point in 2015.

Earlier this week the Pirates pitching depth took a hit when Brandon Cumpton underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. Cumpton was likely to be the seventh or eighth option in the starting rotation for the Pirates, and one of the early season depth options, but his injury will likely slide Sadler up to that position on the depth chart.

“I feel bad for Cump, he’s one of my good friends and I wish him all the best,” Sadler said. “But if the opportunity comes, I’m going to do him proud and I’m going to do the Pirates proud and do my job covering that spot.”

If the last couple of years are any indication, the chances are high that the Pirates will need Sadler to contribute on some level this season. The Pirates used eight starters last year, and 12 in 2013, including nine that made five starts or more. Sadler was needed last year in a limited role, throwing just 10.1 innings in relief. But the experience he gained is what has made him feel confident so far in Spring Training and heading into the season.

“The little taste last year gives me a different kind of confidence,” Sadler explained. “You feel more comfortable with the atmosphere. That’s when you can settle down and do what you want to do.”

As is often the case with most young pitchers just entering the majors, Sadler admitted that he was giving the opposing hitters too much respect. With last year’s experience under his belt, Sadler’s approach will be to attack the opposing hitters, no matter what the back of their baseball cards say.

“You’re going to get the best of me, and if you get me, you get me. And that’s something I’m really going to be focused on, just attacking every hitter that I face. It doesn’t matter who it is. The four-hole guy, the nine-hole guy, it doesn’t matter. And that is something that I think I’m going to have to do to be successful.”

Sadler has not yet been given a specific role heading into the season, but he feels comfortable at filling any need the Pirates may have.

“It’s all going to come down to what they need. They’ve started stretching me out as a starter and I appreciate that. If the same kind of situation happens [as last year] and they need a guy for the bullpen, the ultimate goal is to be there. Doesn’t matter what my role is.”

Sadler could prove to be an important depth piece for the Pirates this season.  If he continues to attack hitters and get ground balls with his strong sinker, he’ll be a viable bullpen or starting option.

  • formerdraftpick
    March 15, 2015 10:51 am

    Is it just me or do you think Sadler is in on the rotation while Vance is out?

  • With Locke, possibly, on the block, Sadler and Richard are probably going to be the top two pre-June options…and that really doesn’t scare me too much.

    • I have a hard time seeing locke on the block anymore because of the injury to Cumpton.

      • i don’t see how locke is relevant, no option, can’t stay stretched in the pen. The injury to Cumpton does not change the fact that he doesn’t have a place in the rotation.

        • Best 25 is the way to win.

          • You can agree or not, but acting like best 25 is going to happen in PIT is dumb. They clearly very highly value keeping assets as opposed to just dumping them because they think Locke isnt a relief pitcher. PIT is waaaay more likely to put Locke/Worley in the pen and send Hughes to AAA, keeping those assets and not giving Locke away for whatever another team has to give after ST (no team will see PIT having any leverage in trading Locke since they clearly are doing so out of trying to get anything as opposed to him in the pen).

            If they saw an issue with needing to move Locke to avoid this issue, they would have found something doable in the offseason before every team found other options. Your return value in the first month of the season is usually low, since everyone is wary of moves and thinks they have a fine team.

        • It gives the Pirates protection for the early months because our prospects won’t be ready by then.

      • I would disagree. With so many teams losing pitchers in spring training, I think Locke’s value to the team as a trade chip is higher than his value as an insurance policy in the bullpen.

        Both Kingham and Sampson will be viable call-ups in mid-June. I’d see no reason to hold onto Locke with the hopes he can make 2-3 starts when he could be, easily, worth the haul for Snider.***

        ***Of course, this is assuming the Pirates break camp with the starting five intact. If not, Locke is in the rotation…and, FWIW, I think Locke is awesome…he’s just out of options and not as good as Worley.

    • Scott Kliesen
      March 14, 2015 8:16 am

      Can’t. Ever. Have. Too. Much. Starting. Pitching.

      Locke and Worley will be Pirates on opening day. Quite simply, trading either one this time of year makes zero sense. The big league team will be worse off because they won’t be able to get a player in return who is able to contribute at the level of either Locke or Worley.

      • I disagree. You certainly can have too much starting pitching…such as when you have too many starting pitchers, not enough options to keep them in the organization and have to relegate one (or more) to the bullpen where, in all reality, if he’s not used in the first few weeks, he ceases to be an option for starting pitching.

        NOTE: I’m not saying trade Locke today…hold him until to the end of spring because he’s a very nice fallback in case of injury. But, once the season starts, his impactful-ness clock is ticking.

        • No, you cant ever have too much pitching. Its like the only thing in baseball that is a sure thing. You say “yeah no worries we have too much depth” and then you have 3 injuries in 2 months and need to dig 8-9 deep into that depth. You have the option to maximize assets by using Locke in the pen, get him side sessions that allow him to spot start for a month ish and then becomes a valuable long man.

          Which is likely as valuable as what gets offered in the first month for trades. Value is near its lowest right out of ST because the majority of teams have guys they like enough to give a fair shot and they think they have a team to contend. Few teams see losing prospects for a back end starter that early as useful. Moving like made way more sense months ago when the team still was aware it had to find a spot for him. Low minors prospects arent nothing, but Locke can be a fine long relief option for a few months while any type of market actually materializes.

          • The argument wasn’t whether you can have too much pitching, it was too much ‘starting’ pitching.

            If we’re asking if Locke can be a long man…okay, fair question. Is he the best option for that role considering others on the roster? If not, then it would seem to keep him is to say we’re not fielding the best team we can, instead we’re attempting to keep players in the organization and that may mean putting out a weaker team.

            Back to my original premise, Locke’s value to the team isn’t, I think, in line with his talent…it’s based on the performance of Sadler and Richard. If they are doing well, and the gap between either (or both) of them isn’t that far off from Locke, it would seem a bad decision to hold onto him when he could be easily replaced. And, when June rolls around, you’ve got the additional names of Kingham, Sampson, and Taillon to throw into the mix.

            Whatever your position or mine, the reality is that we only ever know in hindsight.

            • But, as you say in your argument, if the difference between Locke and his replacement is thin, losing him makes little sense. The team would be, at most, faintly weaker in the bullpen in the long relief role with Locke on the team. Trading him loses the option of using him in any way that is useful, and getting back what surely wont be anything higher than a B prospect (and likely lower IMO considering the time of the trade). I’d be plain interested in Locke as a relief man, since he could logically add 2-3 mph and for him, thats intriguing a la Tony Watson.

              If the team can maximize all 3 assets in Locke, Richard, and Sadler and get production out of all 3 at various points, that screams a PIT move rather than trading Locke to be trading him. Particularly early on in the year when saying that Richard is fine depth is pretty darn risky, considering he will certainly still be working through changes. Trading Locke leaves really Sadler as the go to guy in a rotation of arms that arent exactly without their injured past. Locke being able to step in during that first month can make a huge difference, and they can still explore a trade in June if they really think someone else is an upgrade as the long relief man.

              • Yes, Sadler would be the main go-to guy…for two months…or 9 starts…if someone went down on Day 1. After that, assuming Richard was unable to step up, there would be three AAA arms to chose from in Taillon, Sampsom, and Kingham.

                Is Locke for a hypothetical 9 starts a greater value than Sadler/Richard + a B prospect?

                On the other side of the coin…what is Locke’s value if he stays in the pen for two months? What would a team be prepared to offer for a guy who’s going to need a few weeks to be able to make a his first start of the year?

                • You assume its a B prospect, which could be totally off and you could get a Tarpley like return that is years away and more like a C to C+ option.

                  So for me, yeah Locke is more valuable as a fill in for a month or two ahead of Richard (while still giving us the ability to use Richard if needed) and then a relief option rather than getting his trade value return. This rotation is not a super great bet to stay healthy, since 2 guys have more than short injury histories (Liriano, Morton) and AJ is aged. Not crazy to think Morton suffers more nagging injuries/set backs and AJ sees a lower body injury and misses 2 weeks. Might not happen, but if it does in the first 2 months it means both Richard and Sadler are needed and must be in a place where they are useful depth. Which, particularly for Richard, isnt assured.

                  In short, more depth is always better. If it was so obvious, and it was, that this crunch was going to happen the team would have moved Locke before ST since value goes down as you enter ST and the first few months. Locke bringing back a high A ball, say 3Bmen, has value but i dont see it being greatly more than Locke as depth and a fine long man all year. Gomez proved the value a decent long man can have at times, in case of emergency. Like the idea of moving Locke, but not now. There really is no market set in ST or early in the season, so moving players means being a seller with little leverage. No team really sees a great need for a Locke type in May, because if they did they tried to fix it in the offseason and will give that guy they found time to fail.

        • Scott Kliesen
          March 14, 2015 1:24 pm

          I see your point, but how does trading Locke help this Pirates team? No way they get more than a B prospect in return. Better to make him the long man in pen and wait for inevitable injury. Won’t take long to stretch him out of need be.

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