Pirates notebook: Rookie Dario Agrazal provides big boosts to rotation
Nearly 100 games into the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting rotation remains a work in progress.
Jameson Taillon and Steven Brault remain on the injured list.
Trevor Williams, who spent a month rehabbing a side strain, was scratched as the starting pitcher Saturday night while battling a severe case of the flu. But he was in the clubhouse Saturday and is expected to pitch again during the current homestand.
Manager Clint Hurdle was not especially talkative Saturday about his plans for the next several days, but he said Chris Archer will pitch Tuesday night in the second of a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals. He also said Brault’s shoulder strain is improving.
Meanwhile, rookie Dario Agrazal joins Saturday’s starter, Joe Musgrove, as probably the most reliably productive pitchers on the staff at the moment.
Agrazal, one of eight Pirates to make a big league debut this season, still has much to prove. But he has been one of the surprises of the season.
He was designated for assignment in January, immediately exposing him to other clubs. He ended up with the Pirates in spring training and bounced between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis before he was brought up to the Pirates on June 15.
In a small sample size of four starts, he hasn’t allowed more than six hits or two earned runs in any outing.
He has more walks (eight) than strikeouts (seven), and he’s allowed three home runs in 22 innings. But he’s 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA.
“I see a young man who has a quiet confidence that’s real,” Hurdle said. “I see a young man who has a strong conviction in his abilities. He doesn’t overrate himself. He doesn’t underrate himself.”
Agrazal (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) isn’t blessed with a overwhelming stuff, but he’s found a way to win games.
“He’s got a skill set that he’s figured out how to use professionally and make it work on the mound,” Hurdle said. “I don’t think he’ll throw one pitch that will blow your eyes back and go, ‘Oh, my gosh.’
“We can’t fit him (in the rotation) twice in five days. That doesn’t work. We’re going to leave him alone on a regular rotation.”
Agrazal pitched Tuesday against the Cardinals in the only Pirates victory since the All-Star break (before Saturday), and Hurdle said he’ll return to the mound Sunday in the finale of the three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park.
“It’s been fun to watch him experience the success because of his hard work, because of his perseverance,” Hurdle said.
Kela getting close
Relief pitcher Keone Kela could be line to return from the injured list Monday.
“(His rehab) seems to be going well. We can use him,” Hurdle said, aware his bullpen has been inconsistent all season. “In a best-case scenario, he’ll be able to join our club on Monday and start the St. Louis series.”
Kela (shoulder inflammation) has been on the injured list since May 8.
In four games of his rehab assignment in Indianapolis, Kela struck out seven of 16 batters while giving up five runs and two homers among five hits.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .