Earlier this week, the Pirates claimed left-handed reliever Buddy Boshers off waivers from the Houston Astros. If Boshers were to be called up right now, he would be the only left-hander the Pirates would have in the bullpen (I’m not counting Felipe Vazquez in this article, since he is only going to be used at the end of the game). They had Steven Brault in the big leagues, but he was sent down a few days earlier, leaving an all right-handed group.
The Pirates added a reliever at the trade deadline, but it was right-hander Keone Kela. That filled a need for another late inning reliever, but didn’t add the big lefty that fans wanted.
The reason you’d want a lefty reliever is obvious: to have a guy who can get left-handers out, especially in key situations. But the question is whether the Pirates need a left-hander in order to do that.
For years the Pirates have had a goal to get relievers who can get both lefties and right-handers out. They said that it doesn’t matter what hand a guy throws with, as long as he can get guys out. And that makes total sense. Why does it matter if a guy is left-handed or right-handed if he can get that specific job done?
We’re in an era where if you place value on a hitter based on his batting average or RBI total, you are obviously out-dated. If you place value on a pitcher based on his W/L record, or even his ERA alone, you are out-dated. But for some reason the concept of needing a left-hander specifically to get outs against other left-handers doesn’t seem like a dated idea.
Taking a look at FanGraphs’ splits leaderboards, we see that there’s probably not a need for the Pirates to have a specific lefty. There are 219 relievers this year who have faced at least 33 left-handed hitters. Of that group, Richard Rodriguez ranks 18th overall with a .213 wOBA against left-handers, all while facing 88 lefties, which ranks 53rd. Rodriguez has faced double the amount of lefties as Vazquez, and has better results (Vazquez has a .227 wOBA).
Kyle Crick is next on the list, coming in tied at 58th with a .265 wOBA against 85 lefties. Edgar Santana is 95th with a .293 wOBA against 107 lefties. He’s followed by Steven Brault, a lefty, who has a .307 wOBA against 73 hitters.
This isn’t to say that all Pirates relievers can currently handle lefties. Kela has been near the bottom of the league this year with a .387 wOBA. But this shows that adding a lefty isn’t as big of a need as it would appear.
Crick can handle lefties. Santana is at least average against them. Kela struggles, but you’ve got Rodriguez who could step in and take over in a big situation, and he has been one of the best in the league this year against lefties. This covers the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, and you obviously don’t have an issue in the ninth with Vazquez.
Would it hurt to add a lefty reliever, or another guy who can get lefties out, to the current bullpen? No. Adding depth is never a bad thing. But it’s not like the lack of a lefty reliever creates a hole on the current team. If Rodriguez was actually left-handed, then there probably wouldn’t be an issue here, as he would fit the traditional bullpen role of a left-hander who can get left-handers out.
But the hand he throws with doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that he can get lefties out. And if the Pirates want more guys who can get lefties out, then they should get more guys who can accomplish that goal, regardless of what hand they throw with.
The Pirates are in fourth place in their division, trailing by eight games with 45 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by five games.
Indianapolis is in first place and they lead by four games with 23 games left in their schedule.
Altoona is in second place and trails by three games with 25 games left in their schedule. They lead the race for the second playoff spot by three games.
Bradenton is in sixth place and trails by 13.5 games with 22 games left in their schedule.
West Virginia is in sixth place and trails by 10.5 games with 24 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team by 3.5 games and could make the playoffs if Lakewood wins the second half title and they finish second.
Morgantown is in sixth place and they trail by 14 games with 22 games left in their schedule.
Bristol is in third place and trails by 6.5 games with 20 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team, which also gets a playoff spot, by 2.5 games.
The GCL Pirates are in fourth place and they trail by nine games with 13 games left in their schedule.
The DSL Pirates1 are in fourth place and they trail by 11 games with 13 games left in their schedule.
The DSL Pirates2 have been eliminated from the playoff race.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 13-10 to the San Francisco Giants on Friday night. Trevor Williams will get the start today, coming off of his outing on August 5th when he allowed two runs over five innings against the St Louis Cardinals. The Giants have not yet named a starter for Saturday.
The minor league schedule includes Altoona and the GCL Pirates playing doubleheaders today. Luis Escobar and Cam Vieaux are scheduled for the Curve. Escobar hasn’t been able to get through five innings in either of his last two outings. Vieaux gave up one run over seven innings in his last game. JT Brubaker goes for Indianapolis. He has allowed two runs over his last 22 innings, with one walk and 18 strikeouts. Bradenton’s Gavin Wallace threw five shutout innings in his last start. West Virginia’s Hunter Stratton has given up 1/2 runs in eight of his last nine starts. Michael Burrows, the 11th round pick, is scheduled to pitch today for the GCL Pirates. We could see Braxton Ashcraft too, since he pitched on Monday with Burrows.
MLB: Pittsburgh (60-57) @ Giants (58-59) 9:05 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (3.88 ERA, 80:40 SO/BB, 116.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (65-52) vs Pawtucket (54-61) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (3.24 ERA, 76:32 SO/BB, 94.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (61-52) vs Erie (55-61) 4:30 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (4.87 ERA, 12:13 SO/BB, 20.1 IP) and Cam Vieaux (3.66 ERA, 51:13 SO/BB, 66.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (50-60) vs Tampa (57-61) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gavin Wallace (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (58-54) @ Rome (62-53) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Hunter Stratton (4.75 ERA, 67:41 SO/BB, 77.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (19-35) vs Mahoning Valley (32-20) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (22-26) vs Greeneville (19-29) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
GCL: Pirates (19-22) vs Yankees West 10:00 AM DH (season preview)
DSL: Pirates1 (28-31) vs Indians 10:30 AM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates2 (23-36) vs Giants 10:30 AM (season preview)
From Thursday night, highlights from the top two prospects in the system
8/10: Pirates recall Clay Holmes. Option Dovydas Neverauskas to Indianapolis.
8/10: Afredo Reyes assigned to Altoona. Dylan Busby assigned to Bristol.
8/8: Luis Nova and Denny Roman promoted to Bristol. Yerry De Los Santos promoted to GCL Pirates.
8/8: John Pomeroy promoted to West Virginia. Alec Rennard and Argenis Romano promoted to Morgantown.
8/8: Rodolfo Castro activated from West Virginia disabled list.
8/8: Josh Bell activated from disabled list. Jose Osuna optioned to Indianapolis.
8/7: Pirates claim Buddy Boshers off waivers. Christopher Bostick designated for assignment.
8/7: Jackson Williams placed on Indianapolis disabled list.
8/7: Jin-De Jhang activated from Altoona DL. Bralin Jackson placed on disabled list.
8/6: Pirates acquire Adeiny Hechavarria and cash considerations From the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Seelinger.
8/6: Domingo Robles Promoted to Bradenton. James Marvel promoted to Altoona.
8/5: Dario Agrazal assigned to Altoona. Pedro Vasquez assigned to Bradenton.
8/5: Pirates recall Casey Sadler. Option Alex McRae to Indianapolis.
8/5: Zac Susi assigned to Bristol.
8/4: Pirates released Yair Babilonia and Garrett Brown.
8/4: Corey Dickerson activated from disabled list. Christopher Bostick optioned to Indianapolis.
8/4: Ben Bengtson and Deon Stafford activated from West Virginia disabled list. Raul Siri promoted to Bradenton. Jhoan Herrera assigned to Morgantown.
8/4: Austin Coley placed on disabled list.
8/3: AJ Schugel assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
8/3: Pirates option Steven Brault to Indianapolis. Recall Dovydas Neverauskas
8/2: Alfredo Reyes promoted to Indianapolis. Pedro Vasquez activated from Altoona disabled list.
8/2: Nick Kingham optioned to Indianapolis.
8/2: Leandro Pina placed on 60-day minor league DL.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a player who held a Major League record for 33 years. Starting with outfielder Woody Jensen, who spent his entire nine-year Major League career with the Pirates from 1931 until 1939. He played 738 games with the team, and in 1936 he had 696 at-bats, which stood as an MLB record until the Pirates Matty Alou had two more at-bats during the 1969 season. Jensen had trouble cracking the outfield for the Pirates early in his career because the team had three Hall of Famers at one point, Paul and Lloyd Waner, as well as Freddie Lindstrom. Jensen hit .285 during his career and struck out just 100 times in 2,869 plate appearances.
Others players born on this date include:
Al Pedrique, 1987-88 shortstop. It took him nine years to make the majors after he signed. He hit .301 for the Pirates in 1987. then struggled the next year and was released after the season.
Dorn Taylor, pitcher in 1987 and 1989. The Pirates signed him as a non-drafted free agent, one of those rare success stories from that route. He made the Opening Day roster in 1989.
Walter Barbare, 1919-20 infielder. Prior to the 1921 season, he was part of a famous trade that involved two future Hall of Famers, with the Pirates getting back shortstop Rabbit Maranville from Boston(Braves) and Billy Southworth going to other way, along with cash and another player. At the time, it was considered a blockbuster deal.