ShareThis Page

Pirates notebook: Hurdle goes against grain when it comes to pitcher-hitter matchups

| Wednesday, July 5, 2017, 9:06 p.m.
Getty Images
The Pirates' Daniel Hudson to the Cardinals' Randal Grichuk during the eighth inning April 19, 2017 in St Louis, Mo.

PHILADLEPHIA — With four left-handers in their bullpen, the Pirates would seem to be well-positioned to face tough opposing left-handed hitters late in games.

But it hasn't really worked out that way — at least, not in the way conventional wisdom would dictate.

“We've seen it get reversed this year as much as ever here in one season out of a bullpen,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Left on left, that hasn't worked. And right on right, that's hasn't worked. With guys in the past they've had success with, it has been flipped a little bit.”

Other than Felipe Rivero and his .089/.160 left/right opponents' average splits, two of the other three lefties in the Pirates bullpen have been better against right-handed hitters: Wade LeBlanc (.306/.220 left/right), Tony Watson (.327/.311). Antonio Bastardo has been poor against both (.364 /.393).

Two of the three right-handers have similar splits when facing left-handed or right-handed hitters: Juan Nicasio (.217/.213) and Daniel Hudson (.258/.250).

The nontraditional splits are part of the reason that Hurdle elected to use Hudson during the sixth inning of what ended up a 3-0 win Tuesday against the Phillies — even though two of the three men up were left-handed. He turned to Watson in the seventh. None of the four batters he faced hit lefty.

Hurdle said he rather would think outside the box rather than adhere to a strict “matchup” style usage of a lefty/righty reliever.

“It's a move that covers your backside, ‘I went left on left. I went right on right,' ” Hurdle said. “But at the end of the day, are you really being fair to the pitcher and his skillset doing that?”

Meadows continues rehab

Top prospect Austin Meadows remains in Bradenton, Fla., to continue his rehabilitation from a right hamstring strain, Pirates head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said. The outfielder — a top-10 prospect in baseball, per Baseball America — was placed on the Triple-A disabled list by Indianapolis on June 22.

Tomczyk said Meadows would continue his rehab in Florida for “not extended (amount of time) but more than two weeks.”

“Austin is a competitor. He smells the big leagues. He wants to be up here,” Tomczyk said. “So we are taking a different approach from a minor-league perspective as a performance team, looking into different ways to train him, looking into different ways to prevent this from happening in the near and distant future.”

This is the third hamstring injury over the past three-plus years for Meadows, the Pirates' first-round pick in 2013. It's the second strain to his right hamstring over the past 12 months.

Meadows, 22, is hitting .248 with four home runs in 254 at bats for Indianapolis this season. Projected as the likely replacement for Andrew McCutchen if/when he is traded, Meadows has a mediocre .702 OPS in 101 Triple-A games dating to last season.

Shutout ‘Stew'

Each of the past three times the Pirates have shut out an opponent, there has been one common link: the catcher was Chris Stewart.

Stewart was behind the plate for Tuesday's 3-0 win against the Phillies, last week's 4-0 win against Tampa Bay and a 1-0 victory May 21 at home against Philadelphia.

“You find a catcher who has (game-calling) as a strength in conjunction with a pitching staff, they are valuable,” Hurdle said. “That's why backup catchers, a lot of them don't hit a lot. What you give up in the bat, you get in run prevention.”

Stewart is hitting .182 with a .497 OPS this season. But the 3.89 ERA the Pirates have when he is catching is the best of any of the four catcher they've used this season.

Buc bits

Tomczyk said Francisco Cervelli is being treated like any other player, even as he comes back from the concussion disabled list for the second time in a month. But Tomczyk added Cervelli will be monitored differently “maybe from a more creative perspective of how we train him short-term and longterm from a neuro-cognitive perspective.” ... Indianapolis infielder Gift Ngoepe (left hamstring strain) is on a rehab assignment with Short-Season Class A West Virginia. ... Adam Frazier had played in all but two of the Pirates' 49 games heading into a scheduled day off Wednesday. Hitless in his past nine at-bats, Frazier has hit just .192 since his season average peaked above .370 following a home run May 25 in Atlanta.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.