The Pittsburgh Pirates optioned pitcher Drew Hutchison to Indianapolis on Wednesday morning, cutting the active Spring Training roster to 33 players and narrowing the battle for the fifth rotation spot to Tyler Glasnow and Trevor Williams.
Hutchison pitched last night and had his third consecutive poor outing of the spring. In six appearances, he posted a 10.02 ERA in 20.2 innings, with 33 hits, nine walks and five homers. After being acquired at the trade deadline last year from the Toronto Blue Jays, Hutchison made six September appearances for the Pirates, five out of the bullpen. He had a 5.56 ERA, a 1.59 WHIP and a .341 BAA in 11.1 innings. He was one of four players competing for the fifth rotation spot, but now he will have to try to turn things around in the Indianapolis rotation before he returns to Pittsburgh.
UPDATE 11:41 AM: Update from Tim Williams…
Neal Huntington just spoke with the media about the decision to send Hutchison down, following his horrible outing last night. He said that the decision came down to both the body of work and the start last night contributing to that.
“We’ve seen some flashes of the guy we felt like we were getting when we traded for him, with the crispness of the fastball, the ability to keep it out of the middle of the plate, sharpness of the breaking ball, and a very effective changeup,” Huntington said. “Unfortunately, we’ve also seen way too much of the fastball catching too much of the plate, and the other pitches not being as sharp. While we still believe he can help us win at the Major League level, as we talked about with [Steven Brault] yesterday, we’ve got some guys ahead of him.”
Hutchison had a nice start to the spring, giving up just two runs in nine innings over his first three starts, with nine strikeouts and three walks. His final three starts were the complete opposite, giving up 21 runs in 11.2 innings of work, with nine strikeouts and six walks. Huntington said that the difference between the two stretches came down to pitch execution and location. He also said they noticed Hutchison rebounded well after he got hit, and that the velocity and location of the fastball improved. They need to see that before he gets hit in the future.
“That is one thing he’ll do. He will fight back and continue to battle,” Huntington said. “One of the challenges we’ve had since he’s been with us, and one of the challenges over the course of his career are multiple run innings. Rather than making a quick adjustment, and giving up a single run inning, especially in our time, it’s turned into a two or three, or as it did last night, a six run inning. We’ve got to be able to help him slow that down, be able to make the big pitch when necessary, and instead of a crooked run inning, have it be a single run inning.”
Huntington said that Hutchison wasn’t an option for the bullpen, since they still like him as a starter, and want to get him back on track in Indianapolis.
“We still believe he can be a quality Major League starting pitcher and need to do some work to get him right,” Huntington said. “In our minds, the best way to do that is to send him to Indianapolis, and give him consistent work, give him some bullpens, and see if we can get him back to what we believed we were getting when we traded for him.”
The move means that the fifth starter battle is down to Trevor Williams and Tyler Glasnow. Huntington didn’t disclose a winner, saying they have an idea where they want to go, but need to see how things play out over the next few days. Glasnow will have another start in Montreal, likely pitching the Saturday game. Williams has one more outing as well, and the Pirates will make their decision after the Montreal series.
“It’s not like this outing or the next outing is making that decision,” Huntington said. “Our decision will be based on the body of work, and what we feel was the best rotation for us to be in a position to win games as we go forward. We’ll do the same thing in the bullpen. We’ll put that bullpen out there that we feel is our best initial bullpen.”