P2Daily: What is the Plan For Cody Bolton?

Cody Bolton was one of the more intriguing prospects heading into the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Having not pitched since 2019, you knew that they were going to be cautious with him and ease him back into game action.

After getting only a handful of starts in Altoona, upon returning to baseball in 2022, Bolton was given the push to Triple-A, one step away from the majors.

Bolton has been good this season, with a 2.89 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings pitched this year.

As we are about halfway through the season, you can see Bolton possibly starting to fade a bit, struggling with his control in the month of June. Bolton has a 16.2% walk rate this month, the highest total of the season so far.

The Pirates have started to scale him back a bit. April saw him average about 44 pitches per outing, and as far throwing strikes, he was far more effective then.

MONTH: ERA / FIP / K% / BB% / AVG / Pitches/Outing

April: 3.86 / 2.87 / 29.2% / 14.6% / .244 / 44.0

May: 2.30 / 3.02 / 29.0% / 13.0% / .190 / 59.4

June: 2.76 / 5.18 / 17.6% / 16.2% / .145 / 53.8

You can see his results are kind of all over the place. The ERA is in the twos for the second straight month, and the opponent’s average continues to drop, but the walks and FIP continue to rise.

Bolton threw 91-pitches on June 2nd against the Omaha Storm Chasers, the highest mark of the season for him. Since then, he has thrown 55, 29, 30, and 64 pitches in his next four outings, respectively. He even came out the bullpen twice and pitched on two days rest in between the second and third outing.

In fact, Bolton has played three times (41 pitches per outing) in the last nine days, not exactly something you would expect to see from a starting pitcher.

His recent usage has really left in the air what exactly the plan is for Bolton the rest of the year. There are calls for him to take a spot in the rotation whenever a spot opens, this despite him averaging 52.4 pitches per outing.

With his control recently, Bolton walked five in 2 1/3 innings on Thursday. Those 50 pitches would be eaten up in the first couple of frames.

The Pirates seem to be playing towards a shorter outing role with Bolton right now, something he has shown he can thrive in at times. We’ve seen how valuable those type of pitchers have been out the bullpen this year.

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The plan for Cody Bolton should be the same as it was on Day 1 – get him exposure at AAA, keep him under 100 IP, and finish his 2022 healthy. After almost two years off from competition, it is understandable that he would show some inconsistencies, but somebody in the Pirate org went off-script.

His Game Logs show the care the Pirates took in his first 6 starts averaging only 43 pitches a game. The next 4 starts he was allowed to throw an average of 65 pitches, and never more than 71 pitches/game. Then, after all of the deliberate care over a period of two months, in his 11th start on Jun 2, he is allowed to stay in to throw 91 pitches??? It was possibly his best game of the young season, but somebody’s pitch counter must have malfunctioned.

In his next start on Jun 10th he pitched the first 4 innings, but was pulled after only 55 pitches. After that start we began trying shorter outings with less rest in between? In his last outing on Jun 23, he went 2 innings giving up 2 hits and 5 walks. It’s like we are in full damage control, and could possibly be going in the wrong direction?


It’s felt like a dial it up and scale it back situation. Build him up, let him go a full outing, then scale it back the rest of the season to keep his pitch count and innings down to a reasonable level for him.


Lord knows Pirates could use another arm, or three, who can come in and get outs in high leverage situations late in games.


Not gonna say I know all the AAA arms, but Bido might me that arm. Like many minor league arms he struggles with his control, but when he has some command he is hard to hit in short stints.


“struggles with his control” is an understatement. Although he walked many, he did have decent BB/K rates, such as 29/90 in A , and 33/91 last year in AA. This year he is 36/46 in 50 IP. He needs to clean that up to get attention.

The kid who really impressed me though is Noe Toribio who has just been promoted to AAA. At AA this year he appeared in 15 G, 39 IP, 1.85 ERA, 13 BB/ 39 K, and will not turn 23 until August. Last year he showed enough to be a SP/RP at AA and did very well for his age. He has the arsenal of pitches, experience, and obviously the mindset to help the Pirates at a very young age. Having the ability to reach back for an upper 90’s FB with movement is a real plus.


Bido’s number have taken a huge hit this past month, but your point is valid, understatement!


Cant have too many options here!


If im reading this correctly, mgmt being cautious with his innings and he will get a call up this year as a reliever with the expectation that we stretch him back out in 2023 as a potential starting ootion, seems thoughtful👍


Overall, I agree. But I suspect MLB time will be limited. Zero to 100 innings is a big jump.


Yuppers, just a pat on the back cup of tea maybe🤷‍♂️


And his 100 innings in 2019 was the most he’s thrown as a pro.


I like this a lot, hopefully you are right!

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