PITTSBURGH — For the first time in quite a while, the Pirates will piggyback starters on Wednesday night, with Steven Brault getting the start and Tyler Glasnow coming in later on in the evening as the Pirates try to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Brault will pitch no more than the first five innings. Glasnow’s role will be a bit less strictly defined.
“On the back end of it, we’ll see how it plays out,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “There’s a chance if it’s a close game and we have a lead, we’ll adjust in the eighth. Rivero will definitely throw the ninth with a lead for the save.”
Piggybacking starters is relatively common in the minors, but it’s the first time Hurdle has done it in Pittsburgh. Hurdle said he thinks it’s an interesting idea to pursue more of, at least in theory.
“I think in a vacuum, it has some things you can warm up to,” he said. “There’s an interesting situation in L.A. where (Alex) Wood has only thrown 90 pitches (nine) times. The performance rate has been pretty good. They’ve actually stayed away a lot from the third time through the lineup.”
But Hurdle cautioned that the arms of professional pitchers take a long time to get used to the well-established pattern of wear. Upsetting that apple cart across the board could have significant side effects.
“You’re going to get into a situation where, if that’s a model you want to present, you’re going to have to build it in at the minor leagues and be steadfast with it,” he said. “It’s a little different mindset than what they grow accustomed to as they’re being developed.”
For now, Hurdle said the piggyback will remain in his pocket simply to alleviate his current problem of too many pitchers and too few games.
“This is something that we’ve just found that’s the easiest solution with seven starters and 10 games and two off days,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something we’re planning on plugging into right away.”
WINTER BALL UPDATES
Jose Osuna and Elias Diaz are planning on playing in the Venezuelan Winter League despite the political turmoil in their home country. Hurdle said that the team is being cognizant of the situation, but did not make and special arrangements for the player.
“We have people connected to the situation, as we do other winter ball leagues,” he said. “We have scouts over there that live there that give you a very accurate description of the culture and the climate of the country at the time. As we get close, we’ll know more. The players are going to be very representative, because they’re not going to be in a hostile situation, as well. If they can’t play and there’s no league, then we’ll look at option B. They don’t seem to think that’s where it sits right now.”
Osuna said he’s hoping to play a good bit of third base while he’s at winter ball. He worked there in the spring and during extra infield practice all season, but has not played there in a major-league game.
***Catcher Francisco Cervelli (quad irritation) and second baseman Josh Harrison (broken hand) are both done for the season, but trainer Todd Tomcyzk confirmed that they are expected to have normal, healthy offseason in preparation for 2018.
***Austin Meadows (oblique strain) is heading to Florida to take part in the Pirates’ fall instructional league, where team will continue evaluating whether or not he’ll play this winter.
***Cole Tucker will be re-examined next week and the next step for him will be determined at that point. He’s hoping to play in the Arizona Fall League.
Gm 153: ☠ (68-84) vs 🍻(81-70)
SS Mercer@SquidBrault 4.38 v
Aaron Wilkerson (1st MLB start)
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) September 20, 2017