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Pirates option A.J. Schugel

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have optioned right-handed reliever A.J. Schugel to Indianapolis. This move wasn’t a huge surprise, as Schugel wasn’t having a great spring. His numbers in the Grapefruit League: 4.66 ERA, 1.86 WHIP in 9.2 IP, with 12 hits and six walks allowed, and seven strikeouts. Schugel’s departure probably increases the chance that Rule 5 pick Tyler Webb will make the team.

Schugel was a pleasant surprise for the Pirates last year. A late convert to pitching, he’d previously struggled severely both at the major league and AAA levels. He pitched well in 52 innings for the Pirates in 2017, though, with a 1.04 WHIP, and good walk and K rates. He nevertheless got sent down in favor of Jared Hughes, who wasn’t pitching nearly as well as Schugel. He came back up at the end of August, but quickly went out with rotator cuff inflammation. Schugel was expected to return before the end of the season, but didn’t recover as hoped and stayed out. Obviously the shoulder issue is a concern, but if he’s healthy he could still help the team.