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.”

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131 COMMENTS

  1. Earlier this week, I posted with a response regarding Hutchison’s poor performance and demotion….I stated that the Pirates FO’s less than total honesty and transparency in drafting Moskos (over Wieters) and making the Liriano trade (and afterwards saying how much they wanted Hutchison, blah, blah, blah), setup both Moskos and Hutchison for failure…a couple of fellow posters could not connect the dots and grasp this notion, when it seems perfectly obvious to me…..let me explain….

    When the Pirates did the unthinkable, and drafted Moskos – when the obvious best player was Wieters and the entire world knew why they didn’t draft Wieters – they made the situation far worse for themselves, and ultimately for Moskos, by denying the real reason they didn’t draft Wieters (money of course) and instead tried to deceive the Pirates fans by suggesting that Moskos was a worthy selection and he was indeed the guy they really wanted with their selection, regardless of Wieters availability. First, it insulted the intelligence of anyone who had a brain and hated Kool-Aid. Secondly, it put Moskos in a “no win” situation and the Pirates essentially left it up to him to somehow redeem their idiotic decision. There was no way Moskos could do that. He was barely a first round talent, yet was put in a situation where he had to try to out perform one of the best HS catching prospects in decades. For some misguided Pirates fans, they even vented their anger and frustration on Moskos – and he became essentially a punch line to a bad joke. They put a lot of undue pressure on Moskos and put him in a very unfair situation – it wasn’t his fault the Pirates FO was run by cheap clowns.

    Now, fast forward to last Summer – the ill-fated and absurd Liriano trade. It wasn’t as egregious of a stupid move as the Moskos fiasco, but it was also motivated by money (shocker) and the Pirates FO (although a different one) made the same mistake – instead of being honest and totally transparent about their true motivations, they tried to pass the return of Hutchison as highly desirable and one of the main reasons for the trade. I am paraphrasing obviously, but that was the message and it was well documented. Again, only an idiot would buy that BS. But, one of the consequences, in my opinion, is that it put added pressure on Hutchison – the innocent party in this circus. The Pirates put it in his hands to somehow redeem the trade or at least reduce the backlash. That had to have put additional pressure on him – only a non-human would not have felt that. Again, he had no way of living up to the trade. Everyone knew his history in Toronto – and it wasn’t long and it wasn’t good. Now, he’s somewhat a butt of jokes now – and some have unfairly ostracized him. The trade wasn’t his fault.

    So, hopefully some of you easily offended posters could understand all that – its not really difficult to comprehend – its all human nature.

  2. Whew is right! They simply cannot afford to run him out there and watch him get bombed. Is there really any evidence at all that he’s any more than a spot starter at best?

    • That is why it isn’t smart or clever to think one is better at that business than those who are actually involved in the Business of Baseball.

      • Oh yes, tendering both Hughes and Hutch only to be forced into cutting both before Opening Day. So smart! Business!

  3. Does that mean that Huntingdon wasn’t REALLY trying to prove anything about the trade ? Probably quite a few disappointed folks on here with that news.

  4. See? What’d I tell you? Brault was only demoted first because of the way the rotation fell this spring. Hutchison was demoted immediately following his [rather poor] scheduled start.

    Now, will NostraDarkstone’s prediction (read: educated guess, based on performance, upside, and comments by the actual GM) of Glasnow as the fifth starter come to fruition?

    Hopefully it does, or else I’ll feel really silly having called myself NostraDarkstone. (Or I would, were I capable of feeling shame. But you all well know from my jokes that I am not.)

  5. More embarrassment and fallout from Liriano trade….did the Pirates want Hutchison in that trade or did the Jays make his inclusion a requirement?

    • Im in the minority but the Bucs just didnt want the Liriano contract. They obviously didnt think much of the 2 prospects so taking a flyer on hutch is 16M safer than taking a flyer on fixing Liriano

      • I think more to the point is that Liriano is and always has been a head case. For whatever reason, he was at odds with Hurdle or Searage, or both, and became uncoachable. I really believe it is that, or something similar to it.

        • Bucs1971….Ray and Hurdle downplayed it, but I truly believe, like you, that they’d had enough after the last reported Frankie blowup.

          Which was sad, because I loved watching him pitch (when ‘on’) AND bat.

          • Absolutely!! Look, the guy can pitch; he always could. It was never an issue of him not having the ability. I don’t know exactly what occurred to cause the irreparable rift between Liriano and the management team, but I firmly believe that there was something that happened that induced Neal H. to conclude that Liriano’s productive days in the Burgh were over. It is sad, but, that’s the problem with the economics of MLB. Players get the guaranteed, multi-million dollar a year contracts and at that point, they, not management, rule the roost. They can turn it on and turn it off whenever it suits them. They get paid no matter what.

          • My Pal Foo…

            I’m with Yoo. There were times I was watching Liriano and his breaking stuff was so silly that umpires completely missed calls. I seem to remember numerous times when his stuff was just impossible.

            HOWEVER, I think the opponents must have scouted him very well and game planned him well because later on, it seemed like nobody was biting on his breaking stuff. Don’t know how or why, but bad looking swinging strikes at balls in the dirt evaporated later on.

            -BB

        • I agree. Which leads me to believe he’ll have a bounce back year causing the Pirates fans in places like Maryland to chirp even louder about how stupid NH is!

      • It was a trade completely based on economics….and had to make a horrible baseball trade to get it done. The Jays would never have agreed to it without the two top 10 prospects included.

    • Yes, so embarrassing that Outside The Lines will be doing an in-depth segment on every facet of the trade including just released info: indigestion from a bean burrito may have impaired NH’s decision making process, leading up to the trade. Experts will chime-in on whether the Pirates should continue to sell bean burritos at PNC, and if their decision Not to sell bean burritos would be considered some form of ethnic/racial bias.

    • You do realize that by *dumping* Liriano’s contract the Pirates were able to sign – Nova, Freese, Hudson.

      Nova, Freese, Hudson > Liriano, McGuire, Ramirez

      • Catch….while I agree with you, it is unfortunate that we always seem to find ourselves in a “salary dump” position.

        Sometimes, I wonder who will be next.

          • C22-
            That’s a pretty good point there. Harrison parlayed a great season where he hit over his head into a nice contract that he can’t live up to now.

            I guess the value will come in someone like Hanson > Harrison or some such.

            Who do you suppose is the new 2b guy. I’m hearing rumblings that Harrison is moving to 3rd for a while anyway.

            -Wabbit

        • Be thankful Pirates could dump his salary.

          Bet you dollars to doughnuts the Brewers wish they could dump Braun, Reds dump Votto, Rays dump Longoria, and even the Cubs dump Heyward. Unfortunately, nobody would buy those deals.

          • The only exception is Votto, who, as of now, is worth every penny? But by 2019 or 2020…..?

            The rest….yep!

            If the Rays would pay half of Longoria’s contract, would you take him for 3b?

            • At first blush, hell yes. But I don’t see how he’s worth 10M in 2021!

              I would love to see him here for next 2-3 seasons for sure though.

              • The Reds also didn’t have to pay him $40m last year or $60m the year before, which is what he was worth.

                This is how long term contracts work.

                A mutual agreement to pay a given player far less than he’s worth in the immediate future with the understanding that he’ll receive far more than he’s likely to be worth towards the end.

                The contracts that bomb are only the ones that start out poorly and age as expected. You don’t get to keep Longoria’s years as the best value in baseball and give away the ones where he’s at or below market rate. Not how it works.

                • I understand your point and I agree to an extent. However, when organizations with payroll budgets in the bottom half of MLB give their homegrown stars “lifetime” contracts, they restrict their ability to retain and attract other players, too.

                  And the net result is the Reds and Brewers are getting surplus value from Votto and Braun, but it’s essentially wasted because the teams are rebuilding. And in a few years when their young talent has matured, those two will be expensive anchors.

                  • We’re now talking about a much, much more specific situation than the one that was started and in that sense, I agree with you.

                    • I’d go so far as to say the Cubs will be forced to choose to trade away at least some of their young core before reaching FA because of the Heyward deal. No way they’ll be able to afford Rizzo, Bryant, Russell and Schwarber and restock their SP AND pay Heyward.

                      Unfortunately, their GM is very smart and will work it out for their benefit somehow, someway.

          • Funny thing is, all 3 you mentioned outplayed their contracts last season. The problem with trading them is that their fan bases would be outraged at the return they got for them.

        • Players performances always deteriorate eventually, rarely at the end of their contract when it would be most convenient. The Pirates cut their losses with Liriano.

        • Reallocating assets in fictional Pirateland, where Lirano’s magical financial flexibility dollars ($13m) pay for the contracts of Nova ($26m), Freese ($11m), and Hudson ($11m) but not Hutch, Hughes, and Jaso.

          • Not their entire contracts, but by *dumping* Liriano, it allowed them to sign the contracts and the fin flex paid for the 1st year of each contract.

            Hughes and Jaso were already signed before the trade, kinda making that point moot.

            • Assuming there were no other areas to cut (there were), Liriano’s salary pays for one year of all the others (it doesn’t) and there’s no room left in the budget (there is).

              Otherwise this logic is a manipulation of reality to serve one’s argument.

          • You’re just picking a fight now NMR. There’s no denying the money saved from Liriano trade was instrumental in constructing existing roster.

            • Ha!

              Pointing out the obvious bias in an argument is now picking a fight?

              I don’t argue at all with the facts, which are that the salary that would’ve been given to Liriano has been reallocated to other places on the roster.

              What I’m doing is pointing out the contextual facts that Liriano’s salary only covers a *portion* of the others listed, underperforming dollars could’ve also been cut elsewhere, and Liriano’s money does not specifically go to only the players you like.

      • I don’t agree with your base argument, but even if I did your conclusion is very premature

      • I wouldnt be too thrilled about nova, guy was terrible for years and had a few good games in a different league after a trade.

      • This is just wrong. We saved $10.7 million (Liriano’s $13 million less Hutchison’s $2.3 million). Nova is making $7.6 million, Freese is making $6.25 million and Hudson is making $5.5 million. So the amount being paid Freese and Hudson combined this season ($11.75 million) exceeds the amount saved by dumping Liriano’s salary. Nova is completely irrelevant to the calculation.

    • Would anyone else overpay to see this person’s (bfsim) situation? Maybe, trading a former ace to do so?

    • Doubt it, at least right away. He is so messed up right now that I doubt that he’s capable of pitching at any type of high level.

  6. Getting off the 25 man roster was the right thing to do, but I somewhat sympathize for the young man the way he has been vilified.

    • I agree, but he did have one way out: he could have pitched better. If he doesn’t have the talent, then he just doesn’t have the talent.

      • Agree.
        Searage had work to do with others, but he should have been a little helpful unless it was a completely futile effort.

      • Based upon his performances in Toronto, I think Hutchison has enough talent for a 4th/5th starter position. He has struggle a lot the last 2-3 years to reach his ceiling. Or maybe with time his ceiling has dropped.

    • By being less than honest, the Pirates management set up Moskos and now Hutchison to fail….

      • That’s your new narrative? How did they set him up to fail? They gave him every chance to win the job, but he couldn’t get it done…

          • Exactly…you got nothing so you’ve resorted to a BS response. The only person that set him up to fail was you in your own mind decided he was a failure the moment they got him because you didn’t like the trade. Luckily for the rest of us, what goes on in your mind doesn’t effect reality. Maybe he goes to AAA and gets better. Maybe he doesn’t. The only certainty is that how he was acquired will have no bearing whatsoever on which direction he goes. It’s absolutely meaningless which means you should be able to understand the situation quite well with no deep thinking required.

      • There’s no pleasing this guy. I normally skip reading anything he post, but this one was short enough to glance…..I guess I felt in the trap!

        • I like using the Disqus block feature. Saves being tempted. I might have to consider it in BFSMd’s case. My eyes get tired rolling all of the time.

      • Good God, man! Yesterday you complained that management would make him the starter just to justify the trade. Then when they do the right thing and send him down you still find something to complain about regarding the move. Ridiculous!

      • Moskos was drafted by your love bunny, Dave Littlefield, not sure how this management group was less than honest to or about him. When you take a pitcher in the first round, he had 100% better be a starter, unless and until he proves he can’t.
        I am completely befuddled at the insinuation that this management group lied to Hutchison, what the heck were they less than honest to him?

    • Totally agree….Hutch is not responsible for the crappy trade, only responsible for what he can control on the bump and so far it hasn’t been good enough. Hopefully he can work out some of his command issues in Indy.

      • Yesterday’s game was a good example of what he needs to do. He was terrible the first inning, but pretty good in the second and third, then he tuckered out in the fourth because he threw so many pitches in the first.

        In the first, everything was up. In the second and third, his location was pinpoint. If you ignored the scoreboard, and only watched those innings, you’d think he was having a great day. Sliders at the knees on the corners, painting with the fastball, it was really good stuff. And they couldn’t touch him in those two innings.

        Whatever it is in his mechanics that’s holding him back from doing that consistently, that’s the thing he needs to fix. Hopefully he can figure it out in AAA now that he’s out of the competition and can just focus on improving and not necessarily on performing.

        • One of the best outlooks I’ve seen on him. I think he may relax in AAA and get the monkey off his back and regain some of his pitching touch. Whether he is good enough to reappear as a ML starter is debatable, but he should perform better.
          I wish him the best and despite most of the negative comments towards him I am sure the entire Bucco nation does as well.

        • problem with hutch is, he really doesn’t have a plus pitch or an out pitch. So he has to be location perfect and that is hard to do in the bigs.

    • No doubt! It wasn’t his choice to get traded for Randy Johnson, Johnny Bench and Roberto Clemente. At least that’s what some commentors would have us believe the package Pirates gave up for him.

      • That’s a ridiculous and gross exaggeration. It was a laughing stock kind of trade, completely motivated by economics. No one can object to that conclusion with a straight face.

        • It was absolutely an exaggeration, but the point holds. Some people, like you, refuse to look any further than the surface at this trade.

          While your busy playing checkers, NH is playing chess.

            • Without the trade, they don’t sign freese. They don’t sign Nova. They are forced to trade cutch for less than they demanded. None of these things happen in a vacuum.

              • Brile…
                Good points here. I don’t think BuccoFanStuckinMD is wrong that the trade was a salary dump. It obviously was. But it was a necessary salary dump and the team is better for it. Never mind that the player we got back is struggling. I think NH was all about getting what he could, which would be a servicable #5 with a chance at upside. The Bucs have helped many pitchers come over to the NL with success.

                -BB

              • Why? Last year’s team salary was 105 million. This year’s is 92 million with Freese and Nova on board. Looks to me like dumping Liriano’s salary just made the owner richer. Doesn’t look to me like they spend a nickel of the money they “saved.” But, let’s not let the facts get in the way of Huntington’s explanation at the time of the trade

            • This wouldn’t be the first time Liriano would bounce back after damaging his value with previous team.

              For whatever reason, Liriano had yet another meltdown season. IMO, he needs a new challenge every few years.

              Don’t think for a minute if he kicks butt for Blue Jays this year, he would’ve had the same success in Pittsburgh.

        • Of course it was based on economics. What else is any transaction in life based on? Every single move we make, from cutting off someone in traffic to get somewhere first, to buying a home, to trading a baseball player- is an economic transaction where value is exchanged. Value is cost+quality and value is in the eye of the evaluators. Like it or not, the hutch trade WAS a value trade. They traded on over paid player and two marginal upside players for a previous opening day starter and one hit pitcher and a lower salary. Both sides saw VALUE in the economic transaction.

        • The problem I’ve had regarding the two prospects is that we could’ve cashed in for a better return earlier when both were still considered as having upside. By the time they were actually packaged with Liriano, the blooms were well off the roses.

    • It tends to happen when a popular Pirate is involved in a trade. It was not Liriano or Ramirez – most were shocked that Reese McGuire was involved, even though with Cervelli and Diaz ahead of him, he was still possibly 4 or 5 years away, and he was not having a good year at AA.

      The Pirates made the proper move this time because Hutch did not do well lately, and has an option remaining. I would not be surprised if Trevor Williams is the #5 guy in the Rotation, allowing TG at least the month of April to polish up his command and especially his use of a 3rd pitch.

      The Pirates are off March 31, April 2, April 4, April 13, April 20, and April 27 – the #5 guy in the Rotation will be skipped probably twice, and then there are always the increased possibility of rainouts in April. Because of the number of off days, the Pirates may opt for an extra RP, or my preference would be an extra bat (O S U N A). Then again the Pirates may add Osuna to the Active Roster and pigs will fly over PNC.

      • I have my doubts the #5 SP is going to get skipped over a bunch in April. Cole is coming off an injury plagued season, Taillon and Kuhl’s first full season in MLB, and overall trend of players playing less often all lead me to believe they’re going to divvy up the starts pretty evenly.

        I hope they go with Glasnow and let him finish his development in Pittsburgh.

        • It all tends to hinge on whether our SP’s stick to the 4 days of rest between starts. If they are going to go 5 days between starts, a 6 man Rotation could work, especially since May has only one off day all month. Seems like a perfect time to work 2 more guys into the action.

          • I’ve been arguing for a 6 man rotation for years and think the Pirates have enough depth to pull it off.

            You’d see fresher arms in the dog days and down the stretch and into the playoffs you shorten up for the playoff series.

            You get better longevity for those arms and better health and recovery.

            -BB

      • MJ, I tend to agree about Williams. He could make some starts and serve as a long man to line up with the off days.

        • Williams is all heart out there and would give you his best whether he was in the BP or starting. Same, same with Brault. TG needs to watch guys like Taillon, Kuhl, Williams, and Brault – they all have a mean streak when they get on the mound. They own it!

      • I like your approach. Let Williams start now while he is hot. Give Glasnow time in AAA to mature. Bring him up when ready and have Willimas move into long relief.

    • I’m pleasantly surprised and please that Trevor is getting proper consideration, based on his ST performance he deserve a shot. He doesn’t have the upside that TG has, but his floor is higher.

    • I’m not so sure. Brault was sent down early enough that they could probably recall him to pitch the fifth game of the season. Huntington did say that Brault was not the worst of the 4 pitchers vying for the 5th starter position.

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