With the loss of both Nick Kingham and Jameson Taillon to injury, and the Clayton Richard to the Cubs, the Pirates lost some starting pitching organizational depth. But today Neal Huntington pointed to Vance Worley, Casey Sadler, Radhames Liz, Angel Sanchez, Chris Volstad and Wilfredo Boscan as potential major-league ready depth.
"Doesn't have the same name-power as Jameson Taillon or Nick Kingham or Clayton Richard, but we pick guys who we believe will come up here and give us a chance to win if the need arises," Huntington said.
On whether Liz is a potential starting option should the need emerge, Huntington said, "We'll have to see where he is."
"Obviously, he's had success in the Dominican Republic as a starter," Huntington continued. "He's been a starter for the majority of his career. He's been effective in his two starts. We'll play it by ear."
Huntington said that the prognosis for Taillon's return to competition from hernia surgery is "two month-ish."
He added that it is way too early to discuss whether Taillon could still work himself into consideration for a September call-up.
"Of course we're going to leave the door open," Huntington said. "But I don't want it to become a story that we're looking for him in September."
No discussion of minor league stint for Polanco
Gregory Polanco has over a full season of plate appearances in his major-league career. In 612 PA, he is hitting .234/.305/.338 .644 OPS with a 81 OPS+. Out of 42 right fielders with 500-plus plate appearances since 2014, Polanco ranks 37th with a 82 wRC+.
Although there isn't a great reason to do so other than, perhaps, capturing what Hurdle described at the time as the league "punching back" and adjusting to his approach, if the first month of his career is excluded, Polanco is batting .223/.294/.308 .602 OPS in 523 plate appearances.
Despite his offensive struggles, Polanco still maintains an above replacement WAR, 0.5. But that is almost all due to his baserunning, which has generated 7.5 runs above average.
When asked today if the organization was "committed" to Polanco working through his offensive challenges at the major league level, or if they were "open" to giving him a minor league stint to rediscover his offense, Neal Huntington said, "It hasn't even been a conversation."
Huntington explained that it is not uncommon for young players to go through an extended period of adjustment to the big leagues.
"We believe Gregory Polanco is going to be a quality major league player," Huntington said. "The large majority of young major-league players that have gone on to be successful veteran major-league players, had some struggles their first year or two in the big leagues. We forget that."
To Huntington's point: Carlos Gomez posted a 71 OPS+ in his first two seasons in the majors at ages 21-22.
"The Bryce Harpers and Mike Trouts make it look relatively easy," Huntington continued. "But there are growing pains. There are challenges and there is an evolution of a young player. We still see the ability in Gregory Polanco, it's just a matter of him applying it consistently and us helping him do that."
Marte removed from game
Starling Marte left today's game due to left-side "discomfort." He will be reevaluated tomorrow.
After the game, Marte politely stopped riding the scooter he was taking down the hallway toward the parking garage to answer questions from the media.
He said that he didn't know if he would be in the lineup tomorrow, adding that the pain that led to him being removed from today's game was similar to what he experienced in St. Louis two years ago. A quick search didn't reveal him leaving a game in St. Louis two years ago. However, in 2012 he left a game against the Cardinals in St. Louis and was later placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain.