The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired left-handed pitcher Wade LeBlanc from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later or cash considerations. LeBlanc was recently outrighted to Triple-A by Seattle, so he’s not on the 40-man roster. However, you’d think the Pirates added him for that reason, since there are no minor league games taking place for the rest of the year.
This move is a bit curious. The Pirates already have plenty of left-handed options in their bullpen for this year and next year. LeBlanc would be eligible for arbitration in the off-season if they wanted to keep him around. He could be a reclamation project for them, but they already have Felipe Rivero and Antonio Bastardo for the 2017 season, plus Steven Brault as an option. So it’s hard to say what the motives for this move are right now.
The Pirates have also selected the contract of Jacob Stallings from Indianapolis, and have placed Chris Stewart on the 60-day DL with left knee discomfort. Stewart has been dealing with the knee issue for some time, and it appears they’re shutting him down for the year. By placing him on the 60-day DL, they open a roster spot on the 40-man for Stallings.
There might be more to come with all of this, and I’ll update if new info comes out.
UPDATE 4:29 PM: Just looked at some numbers for LeBlanc to see what the appeal might be. He’s got a high 19.4% HR/FB rate, and doesn’t have a good ground ball percentage. He throws five pitches, and uses a split between a four-seam, two-seam, and cutter for his fastballs. The numbers for the four-seam aren’t good, and the two-seam is actually good.
LeBlanc had a 1.125 OPS on his four-seam this year, and a .690 OPS for his two-seam. He throws the four-seam 17.5% of the time, and the two-seam 29.7% of the time. He also throws a cutter 16.7% of the time, with an .877 OPS this year. His changeup has been good, with a .611 OPS and a 28.4% usage. His curve has been awful, with a 1.929 OPS and a 7.7% usage.
I can’t see LeBlanc sticking as a starter with the Pirates, considering all of the starting options they have right now. I could see him being a reliever, and if that was the case, the Pirates could scrap the other pitches and just focus on his two-seamer and changeup. Based on what we know about the Pirates and reclamation projects, they tend to take this approach of using the two-seamer more, getting rid of ineffective breaking pitches, and focusing more on the off-speed stuff that works. This is exactly what the Pirates did with Ivan Nova, as Alan Saunders wrote about today.
We’ll see what happens with LeBlanc, but that’s my early prediction.
UPDATE 4:40 PM: The Pirates have announced that they’ve placed Gerrit Cole on the 60-day disabled list, ending his season. Cole was placed on the DL with right elbow posterior inflammation. That clears a spot on the 40-man for LeBlanc.
UPDATE 4:54 PM: Wade LeBlanc and Zach Phillips are expected to join the team at some point, according to Adam Berry. Stephen Nesbit says that Phillips is expected to come up, with Josh Harrison going to the 60-day DL, in one of my favorite tweets of the day due to the Game of Thrones reference.
Zach Phillips will be joining the Pirates. Sounds like Josh Harrison to 60-day DL. The red wedding of roster-move days in Philly is over.
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) September 13, 2016
Lefties Wade LeBlanc and Zach Phillips will be here at some point to pitch out of the bullpen.
— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) September 13, 2016
UPDATE 6:22 PM: Elias Diaz was placed on the disabled list to make room for Zach Phillips. It’s an interesting move instead of Harrison because the Pirates had to recall Diaz first, then place him on the disabled list. Basically they are paying him three weeks extra salary, along with the service time.
So if you’re trying to keep track at home, that’s Wade LeBlanc, Zach Phillips and Jacob Stallings added to the 40-man roster, while Gerrit Cole, Elias Diaz and Chris Stewart have been placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room.