Plenty has been said about the call to end last night's game. A lot has been said about Clint Hurdle's managerial decisions along the way. But there is some real fallout from last night that is likely to take place in the next couple hours.
First, the Pirates bullpen is reasonably shot after the last few days. The starters haven't been able to go deep, so it has been all hands on deck. With 20 games in 20 days, the last thing this team needed was a 19-inning marathon in game five, but it is what it is. Here is a list of innings pitched and pitches over the last five games:
Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday
Beimel 0.1-3 0.1-4 1.0-11 ---- 2.0-21
Grilli 1.0-15 ---- 1.2-24 ---- 3.0-50
Hanrahan ---- ---- 1.0-14 1.0-11 ----
McCutchen 1.0-8 0.1-1 ---- 1.0-22 5.1-92
Resop 0.2-16 ---- 1.0-16 0.2-8 1.0-7
Veras ---- 0.2-34 ---- 1.0-14 1.0-11
Watson ---- 3.0-39 ---- ---- 1.0-26
So, first, who is not available tonight? After last night's fantastic effort, Dan McCutchen isn't available for at least the next two or three days. (His busting it down the line on a grounder to second and on a sac bunt impressed the Twitter world. His play on the weak grounder to the right of the mound was equally impressive. Heck of an athlete, heck of an effort.) Jason Grilli is most likely not available the next two days. Having pitched three games in a row, Chris Resop is also unavailable tonight. The other four guys should be able to pitch at least one inning and possibly two. Tony Watson will be the long man, but I would bet your house that Paul Maholm goes seven tonight. I think he'll have to be physically restrained not to, even if it means throwing 140 pitches. There has been a lot said and written about Maholm over the course of the year and what the team should do regarding his option and the trade deadline--all of it worthwhile discussion. But, it is always worth remembering what a dependable pitcher and team guy Maholm is and he is going to wear it tonight. I guarantee it.
What should the Pirates do? The first thing I would do is option out Chase d'Arnaud. 1.) He fractured his pinky Sunday, so he is dealing with a minor injury. 2.) He isn't going to play much in Pittsburgh, so he's better off playing every day in Indy. 3.) Most importantly, he hasn't been good. His defense at third has been okay, at shortstop it has been sub-standard. His OPS is .539 and his OPS+ is 51. No mincing words. That's terrible.
In his place for the next day or two I recall a pitcher. I don't know if the pitcher to be recalled should/will be Brad Lincoln, Garrett Olson or Chris Leroux, but the team needs another arm for the next couple games, and with the amount of time Pedro Ciriaco has spent on the roster Hurdle obviously is comfortable playing with 4 bench players.
There is a chance the team will option Dan McCutchen instead. While he probably is unavailable for at least three days, he has pitched so well, I actually think not having him for the extra seven days he would have to stay in Indy is a mistake. While I initially thought this was the move the team should make, I've changed my mind.
After the bullpen is back to normal, the trade deadline will impact how things play out. I really no longer see a reason for Lyle Overbay to be on the roster come August 1, once any moves have been made. I'm willing to give veterans a lot of rope, but I think the team now has to move on. While just releasing him may sound imprudent, the money is spent so that shouldn't come into play. Does it make sense to keep him for a month until rosters expand, using him as a defensive replacement? Possibly. But, I think John Bowker is more likely to give the team better at bats if an outside player isn't brought in to sure up the position--which at this point would seem to be a real mistake. If the bullpen is back rested in three days, management can send the recalled pitcher back out and recall Josh Harrison to take d'Arnaud's spot if deemed necessary. The difference between Harrison and d'Arnaud on the bench for a few days is indistinguishable.
With the trade deadline around the corner speculating on what's next would just be guessing, but it is important that the Pirates make the right move here this afternoon. I really think any move other than optioning Chase d'Arnaud and recalling a pitcher is the wrong one. At the time I said the team made big mistake when they didn't recall Alex Presley for the Cleveland interleague series. They went on to get swept in Cleveland. These next five games are big. The trade deadline moves will frame the roster for the next two months, but they should get this move right for the next few days. The games are equally important. All arms on deck.