The Pittsburgh Pirates saw a rash of suspensions over the off-season. The main one was to Nik Turley, who got an 80-game suspension. They also had three minors leaguers receive 50-game suspensions in reliever Montana DuRapau, infielder Mitchell Tolman and shortstop Andrew Walker. Turley still has over a month before his suspension is up, but the minor league schedule is closing in on 50 games, so those other three suspensions are about to end.
Turley, DuRapau and Tolman have all been at Pirate City, participating in games. Walker’s suspension was because he refused to take the blood test and he was under team suspension before the minor league suspension. He hasn’t returned to the club, so despite his suspension ending later this week, he likely won’t play anywhere this season.
A player’s suspension is based on games played by the team he is assigned to at the time of the suspension. DuRapau was assigned to Indianapolis. Tolman was assigned to Altoona and Walker was on West Virginia. Turley is on the 40-man roster, so his suspension goes by Major League games. He is able to join a minor league affiliate for 15 days of rehab before his suspension is over.
Sticking with just DuRapau and Tolman now, Indianapolis just played their 48th game yesterday, while Altoona has now played 46 games. It’s unknown right now if both players will report to the teams they finished the season with last year.
Tolman joined Altoona late last year, with just a few games remaining on the schedule. He was able to play in the playoffs though, so he got some nice experience there. He then played in the instructional league briefly before heading to the Arizona Fall League. So he has experience against upper level pitching, though the AFL didn’t go well. There’s also the matter of Altoona having Stephen Alemais at second base and Ke’Bryan Hayes at third. Those are Tolman’s two positions, so if he goes there, he will be a backup.
DuRapau pitched well for Indianapolis late last season and 15 games for a reliever is a decent sample size. He might not return there immediately because the Indy bullpen right now has a lot of strong arms and guys doing well. We might see him return at first to Altoona before moving up.
With both players, the team might want to make them earn their way back to where they were before the suspensions, rather than just send them back to where they were at the end of last year.
Bradenton is in third place in their division, 4.5 games behind the leader with 21 games remaining in the first half.
West Virginia is in fourth place in their division, six games behind the leader with 20 games remaining in the first half.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 7-0 to the Chicago Cubs on Monday. They will send Nick Kingham to the mound for his fourth start today. He allowed three runs on five hits and one walk in six innings against the Sn Diego Padres in his last start. The Cubs scheduled starter is left-hander Jon Lester, who has a 2.37 ERA in 57 innings, with 48 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP. He faced the Pirates last month in Chicago and allowed four runs over five innings.
The minor league schedule includes Domingo Robles making his tenth start for West Virginia. He has pitched seven innings in each of his last two starts, allowing a total of two earned runs. Altoona starter Pedro Vasquez allowed seven runs on 11 hits over five innings in his last start. No starter has been named yet for Bradenton or Indianapolis.
MLB: Pittsburgh (28-25) vs Cubs (28-22) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (3.44 ERA, 21:2 SO/BB, 18.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (25-23) vs Gwinnett (21-27) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (23-23) vs Akron (30-21) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (7.31 ERA, 11:4 SO/BB, 16.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (26-22) @ Daytona (27-20) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (25-22) @ Lexington (26-22) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (3.06 ERA, 38:10 SO/BB, 47.0 IP)
From Bradenton, our Player of the Week Albert Baur, hits his eighth home run of the season.
5/28: Ivan Nova placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Nick Kingham.
5/28: Pirates released George Kontos.
5/27: Raul Hernandez placed on disabled list. Yoel Gonzalez added to West Virginia roster.
5/26: Starling Marte activated from disabled list. Jose Osuna optioned to Indianapolis.
5/25: JT Brubaker assigned to Altoona. Austin Coley assigned to Altoona.
5/25: Jacob Taylor retired. Kevin Mahala was released (possibly retired).
5/24: Trae Arbet released. Jesse Medrano added to Bradenton roster.
5/23: JT Brubaker assigned to Altoona.
5/22: Jesus Liranzo promoted to Indianapolis. Jackson Williams assigned to Morgantown.
5/22: Tyler Jones released.
5/21: David Lee retired.
5/21: JT Brubaker activated from Temporary Inactive List
5/21: Cody Bolton added to West Virginia roster. Dylan Busby placed on disabled list.
5/20: Pirates activate Josh Harrison from DL. Nick Kingham optioned to Indianapolis.
5/19: Pirates recall Nick Kingham. Max Moroff optioned to Indianapolis.
5/19: Sean Keselica added to Altoona roster.
5/19: Brett Pope added to West Virginia roster.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus two trades of note and one interesting signing that we will look into. The former players born on this date are third baseman Charlie Hayes (1996) and 1929 third baseman Jim Stroner. If you know Pirates history, you’ll know that Stroner didn’t have much of a chance to play third base, as one of the team’s all-time greats was in the middle of his career. That would be Pie Traynor. If you know the minor league system now, you’ll know Charlie Hayes is the father of Ke’Bryan Hayes, who does not have anyone nearly as good as Pie Traynor blocking him at third base.
The Pirates traded infielder Billy Almon to the New York Mets on this date in 1987 for minor league outfielder Scott Little and shortstop Al Pedrique. It looked like a good trade for the Pirates, as Pedrique hit .301 as a rookie, but by the end of the next season he was hitting under .200 and got released.
On this date in 1931, the Pirates traded catcher Rollie Hemsley to the Cubs for catcher Earl Grace and cash. Grace became a solid starter for the Pirates, even though he was acquired to be a backup at the time. They regretted giving up Hemsley though, as he went on to make five All-Star teams and catch over 1,400 games in the big leagues.
On this date in 1925, the Pirates signed veteran first baseman Stuffy McInnis. He was being used as a bench player early in his time with the Pirates, but then put on one of the best hitting shows in team history. From July 29th until the end of the season, McInnis hit .468 and helped the Pirates to their third World Series appearance. He hit .286 in the series and the Pirates ended up winning their second title in seven games over the Washington Senators.