In the past few weeks, there's been some grumbling about the likelihood that the Pirates wouldn't promote Tyler Glasnow to the majors as rosters expanded today. Today, they added six players to their roster but kept Glasnow in Triple-A. I stayed out of the debate -- on one hand, the Bucs have earned a ton of leeway in their judgments with pitchers, but on the other, I wondered if their decision might be a bit conservative, and that perhaps they were missing an opportunity to use Glasnow as a flame-throwing reliever down the stretch. Or something.
Glasnow probably settled that debate with a train wreck of an outing tonight against Columbus. He nearly hit Tyler Holt on the first pitch of the game, and it didn't get better from there, as he walked Holt and the next batter, then gave up a double off the wall to Jesus Aguilar. Glasnow then struck out Zach Walters, but walked the next three batters before being pulled. For the evening, he threw 35 pitches, 12 for strikes. Most of those misses were fastballs, too -- he tried to establish the pitch but never quite could. His velocity looked fine (his fastball ranged from 92 MPH up to 96, and I'm sure he wasn't throwing at max effort), but other than that, his outing was hard to watch. Had he done it in Pittsburgh, it would have been the worst outing by a Pirates starter all year.
After he left -- and this was still the first inning -- Adam Miller got a groundout, then gave up a three-run homer to Alex Lavisky. That left Indianapolis in a 7-0 hole, with Glasnow charged with six of those runs. Miller then got through 4.2 uneventful innings, but Frank Herrmann came on in the sixth and walked three batters while struggling almost as much as Glasnow had.
Fortunately, something fun happened after that. Glasnow and Herrmann's struggles, plus the departures of several pitchers in today's big-league callups, led to the spectacle of Wilkin Castillo pitching, which was magical. He made Jonny Gomes look like Roger Clemens.
Castillo, for the 90 percent of you hardcore Pirates fans who don't know, is a depth catcher who's collected all of 49 plate appearances this year. Entering tonight's game, he had also pitched four times.
Basically, his strategy as a pitcher (if he even really had one) was to get the ball to the plate really quickly, attempting to confuse batters by changing his mechanics with each pitch. I'm sure he hadn't spent much time practicing this, so it was as if he'd played a few seasons of Triple Play 97 and he was imitating EA Sports' impoverished renderings of various pitchers' deliveries. He cocked his elbows and knees all over the place, completely inconsistently and with seeming indifference to the results, at one point blowing a bubble while he was lobbing the ball towards home.
Those results were predictable -- there were a bunch of hard-hit balls, walks and hit batsmen (although Castillo threw way more strikes than Glasnow or Herrmann did). In addition to working fast and changing his delivery, he also changed speeds, which is probably important when you top out at 79 MPH. (The slowest pitch I saw was a 57 MPH changeup, or at least I'm guessing it was a changeup; it got crushed.) At one point, he struck out Columbus outfielder Michael Choice, surely earning Choice a hefty fine in the Clippers' kangaroo court.
Anyway, amidst all the disappointment and then the hilarity, Indianapolis' prospect-laden lineup had a pretty good game. Alen Hanson legged out a double and a triple, demonstrating ample speed. Josh Bell went 2-for-4 and looked fine at first. And Keon Broxton went 3-for-5 and covered a ton of ground in the outfield. One of Broxton's hits was an eighth-inning homer off Columbus junkballer Toru Murata that went way over the wall near the 400-foot sign in center and smacked the batters eye about 20 feet up. It was the longest home run I'd seen in person this year. The Clippers removed Murata one batter later. The remaining fans gave him an ovation, and despite allowing four runs, he probably deserved it -- with everything going on with Indianapolis' pitchers, Murata had been pitching for something like two and a half hours at that point. In the end, Indianapolis lost 10-6.
Columbus, by the way, is a great place to watch a ballgame.
-P- Altoona beat Bowie, 5-2. Stetson Allie, Erich Weiss and Andy Vasquez all had two hits. Jason Creasy allowed two runs over six innings, striking out six and walking only one.
-P- Bradenton beat Palm Beach 4-3 in 10 innings. Jin-De Jhang hit a solo homer, and Edwin Espinal had two hits. After Frank Duncan allowed three runs in seven innings, Junior Lopez pitched three hitless innings of relief for the win. Austin Meadows went 0-for-3 with two walks.
-P- The West Virginia Power also went 10 innings and emerged with a 3-2 win over Lexington. Elvis Escobar had a two-run homer, and Jerrick Suiter had two hits. Yeudy Garcia pitched five scoreless innings but struggled with his control, walking five and striking out two. Kevin Newman went 1-for-4 with a walk.
-P- Morgantown crushed Batavia, 9-0. Mitchell Tolman, Casey Hughston and Erik Forgione each had three hits. Carlos Munoz, playing his second game with Morgantown after going nuts all summer in Bristol, went 1-for-4 with a double. Ke'Bryan Hayes went 0-for-4. Luis Escobar pitched three scoreless innings for the Black Bears, and the bullpen took over from there, with four relievers combining for eight strikeouts and one walk over six innings.
-P- Bristol lost 6-1 to Elizabethton. Gage Hinsz gave up two runs, one earned, while striking out six over five innings; most of the damage was done after he left. Nick Buckner and John Bormann each had three hits.