In the first month of May, the Pittsburgh Pirates may be close to the ‘break in case of emergency’ point when it comes to their rotation.
After losing JT Brubaker to Tommy John surgery before the season even started, they also lost one of their top prospects, Mike Burrows, to the same injury shortly after.
Now, Vince Velasquez left Thursday’s game early with ‘elbow discomfort’, and with the long list of injuries continuing to pile up within the system, it’s hard to not immediately think the worst.
So, where do the Pirates go from here? Obviously they will have to wait for the test to be run to find out just how long without Velasquez will be, but leaving with ‘discomfort’ after just three innings, when he noticeably reached for the elbow, it may be safe to pencil him out at least the next time through the rotation.
He did say he felt ‘optimistic’ after the game.
Velasquez’s next scheduled day, on normal rest, would have been Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies. They have an off day that Thursday, so they could run some sort of bullpen type of game, with maybe Cody Bolton and others eating up an extra inning of work to get through.
If they have to dig into the system, the options — especially on the 40-man — is starting to get scarcer and scarcer. The timing of the injury won’t help either.
Luis Ortiz would be the most ideal player to fill in, as he has major league experience and is already on the 40-man roster. His wipeout slider is helping him find a lot of success in Triple-A, even if it isn’t coming in the form of strikeouts right now.
The Pirates signed Caleb Smith this offseason as a minor league free agent, and after originally looking like he’d compete for a bullpen spot, has been kept stretched out as a starter in Indianapolis. He’s coming off a seven inning complete game shutout on Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Toledo Mud Hens.
Finally, a name that isn’t talked about a lot, but he continues to pitch well in Indianapolis: Osvaldo Bido. He was one of eight pitchers in the Pirates system last year to top the century mark in innings pitched, finishing third in strikeouts as well behind Jared Jones and Ortiz.
He wasn’t much of a strikeout guy until last year, and has even seen an increase this year, striking batters out 30.9% of the time.
Control has always been his biggest setback, and it is a bit up from 2022 as well.
Where things get interesting is that Bido and Ortiz are both slated to start in Triple-A on Friday and Saturday, respectively. So if the Pirates are going to need someone to fill in on Tuesday, you would either have to skip one of them, or have them pitch a very abbreviated outing in their upcoming start. Monday would be the next time Smith could pitch on normal rest, so just based on that timeframe, he may get a shot.
Either Smith or Bido would require an additional roster move to be made to get them on the 40-man roster.
There’s a chance we actually get a good idea of what the Pirates’ plans are by the end of the weekend.
No matter what they end up doing, things are getting super tight at the top of the system and we are barely more than a month into the season.
What About Quinn Priester?
The top pitching prospect in the system would make an interesting candidate to make a start, as the timeline works out perfectly, and he’s coming off perhaps his best start of the season.
It’ll add some recency bias to the situation, but Priester is still looking for some consistency at the Triple-A level, and there isn’t really a rush to get him on the 40-man roster just yet.
Daily Video Rundown
Tsung-Che Cheng with a triple down the first base line here in the third inning #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/EAZdadHNSE
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) May 4, 2023
Tsung-Che Cheng picked up his fourth triple of the season in the third inning for the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Jacob Gonzalez with a two run home run to give Altoona a 3-1 lead #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/0q9XkjRb3j
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) May 4, 2023
With the game tied 1-1, Jacob Gonzalez hits his second home run of the season, a two-run shot to give Altoona a 3-1 lead. They would go on to win that game against Richmond.
Quinn Priester rolled out half a dozen goose eggs for the @indyindians 🥚
The fourth-ranked @Pirates prospect showcased a five-pitch mix in his longest Triple-A start: pic.twitter.com/nUSfWsWDXs
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 5, 2023
Priester had one of the best starts to his season on Thursday, striking out four across six shutout inning.
PIRATES PROSPECTS DAILY
By Tim Williams
Vince Velasquez Removed From Today’s Game With Right Elbow Discomfort
Pirates Recap: Pirates Swept By Rays, Assisted By the Umpires
Prospect Watch: Quinn Priester Throws Six Shutout Innings as the Affiliates All Win
**New Draft Rankings and Mock Draft from ESPN
SONG OF THE DAY
“They say the good die young, so I added some
Bad-ass to my flavor to prolong my life over the drum
Everyone cools off from being hot
It’s about if you can handle being cold or not”
Friday’s column will be written to Rock.Co Kane Flow by De La Soul and MF DOOM.
Mlodzinski to the rotation please. If it comes down to it, I would rather take my chances with him than with Caleb Smith or Kent Emanuel.
I think having Ortiz, Bido or even Priester as viable options next week is impressive depth.
And I would much rather see what we have in Bido, who is now older and has been throwing some serious gas, than a waiver wire depth add from another organization
Seems like there are still some 40 man deletions that can be made without much fanfare
Hold on there, we can easily make a lot of fanfare on any 40 man deletion if we really wa too. (Some of us really want to just for,the fun of it!😁)
Put Luis on the Johan Oviedo plan and LFGGGGG
On board, I could be wrong I think Holderman immaculate inning was all sliders!,!,!
It should be Ortiz, but I would love to see Priester. Just one start and sent back, but then I will have to read the service manipulation comments if he has a good start and those are f*cking annoying. This team played like 50 rookies last year and yet we have the service manipulation mob ready to loose their mind at any given moment…..
Blue Jays are next and they have lost their last 4 to Boston, so maybe they are a bit down and the Pirates can take advantage…
The Pirates have options in the short run for SP, not so sure if it’s a longer time…
Missing Gausman and Manoah (I’m sure they are both misspelled) should help.
actually nailed it
I checked after and was pleasantly surprised!
In what is surely a fluky occurrence but provides some comfort during this losing streak, I think the NL Central is 2-14 in May.
Also, one of two teams with a longer losing streak than ours is the Blue Jays, so someone will break a bad stretch tonight.
This is why I, while enjoying ‘the ride’, wasn’t getting too excited about our hot streak. Our SP depth is perilously thin. And those in the rotation, like Roansy (5.00+ FIP) were due for a regression.
And, even when healthy, was Velasquez going to be another Jordan Lyles, who started out hot and then reversed to his career numbers?
How would we ever know and appreciate an optimist if it weren’t for people like you?
It is called realism. If you say one bad thing about these prospect, whether realistic or not, based on stats and analytics, and you are called a pessimist.
Well, then, you can keep your d**n pollyannish views. I really don’t GAS anymore. More Kool Aid, Mr K (and I don’t mean Nicky….oh yeh, I was branded a pessimist when I pointed THAT out).
The proof is in the pudding, but guys like you just can’t see passed their noses.
You won’t have me and my ‘pessimistic’ views to kick around anymore. I’m out of here.
No one predicting outcomes for human beings is a realist. 99% of people here fall in the spectrum of hope, which includes optimists and pessimists. You are absolutely on the pessimist side. I know that for a fact, because I can always predict your instant “I’ll believe it when I see it” responses. You just don’t want to be hurt, and I respect that. But you are absolutely ruining an experience for a lot of people, including me. I hate doing this job because of pessimists like you who use the term “realist” as a shield.
Be a pessimist all you want, but do it while questioning why you need to publicly doubt and trash developing humans in their early lives.
Ro has actually pitched better than his ERA indicates. ERA 4.09 FIP 3.67.
I was going by a Jason Mackey’ column in the PG. But, as I told SKleisen, I am tired of bringing realistic views to the Kool Aid Views that seem to prevail amongst the majority of the folks on here,
EVERY PROSPECT IS GONNA BE A STAR,!!! And, don’t try to tell me anything different. 🤬🤬🤬
Ah, I remember you guys – the realists.
Surprised that you and your realist views read Mackey. He’s all fluff.
Now take contact quality into account and he’s pitched worse than his ERA. (too many damn metrics! 😉 )
Priester, Nicholas and Mlodzinski need to be added to the 40 man this off-season. Priester and Nicholas could do some spot starts if VV is just down for a couple weeks. Kinda like when Peggy came up… 40 man might provide some opportunities.
I’m optimistic about MLod & Nicolas but not sure if they warrant protection yet. Priester will and I’d love to see him get a one-off start. Most likely Ortiz gets a 2 inning start Saturday and starts for Bucs Tuesday.
Not sure folks have processed yet how far Priester’s stuff has fallen.
That’s crazy how hard Priester is getting hit. I would rather see him struggle with some command than be getting shelled like this against minor leaguers. Looks like Ortiz should get the call.
Other than a couple hard hit balls by Parker Meadows, what are you seeing to make that claim?
is that better than a grade-40 fastball?
The average big league heater is 94 mph, and the knock on Quinn’s already was poor movement when it was humming at 98.
Seems like a tough, fierce competitor. I hope he’s not hiding an injury. Not topping out over 93 , yikes
If i can quote Kamala, time will tell which time the pitcher will time his pitch to the plate.