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Pirates designate Tyler Lyons, make many other bullpen moves

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Texas Rangers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pirates have, as expected, promoted Montana DuRapau. They’ve also called up right-handed reliever Clay Holmes and designated left-hander Tyler Lyons for assignment.

Lyons, as we all know, was awful in his brief time in Pittsburgh. In three games, he lost one and blew a lead in another. He allowed five earned runs in four innings on six hits and three walks.

Holmes has had a terrible time in AAA this year. In 18.2 IP, he’s allowed 15 runs, 11 of them earned, on 17 hits and 15 walks, for an alarming WHIP of 2.04. The fact that the Pirates have had to turn to him — together with their callup of Lyons, who wasn’t pitching well in AAA — is an illustration of the abysmal job that Neal Huntington and his development staff have done of building pitching depth. The team’s pitching pipeline has become more of a stopped-up sewer. And the notion that they could survive a poor offense and ride their pitching into the playoffs has become downright comical.

The bullpen movement at the upper levels has led to a mass migration of relievers in the system, as reported by Pirates Prospects. The most significant one is the promotion of Luis Escobar all the way from Bradenton to Indianapolis. He has yet to allow an earned run this year, but it’s still odd that, having seen fit to demote him to Bradenton at the start of the year, they’d move him up to AAA. It probably reflects a desperate hope that Escobar, who’s on the 40-man roster, will quickly establish himself as an option to provide help for their collapsenating major league bullpen. The other options in AAA are as bad as Holmes. Geoff Hartlieb and Brandon Waddell can’t find the plate, and Jesus Liranzo’s control has to be measured in ZIP codes.

For the other moves: Indy will get Matt Eckelman from Altoona, which in turn will get Joel Cesar from Bradenton. Eckelman is probably an upper-level organizational reliever, although the Pirates’ depth is in such poor shape that he can’t be counted out as a major league option. Cesar has been lights-out at Bradenton, with a WHIP of 0.73 and K/9 of 11.7.

Bradenton will get Samuel Reyes and Logan Stoelke from Greensboro. Reyes, who’s Pablo Reyes’ brother, was very good in low A last year but was sent back there for some reason. This year he has an ERA of 0.52 and K/9 of 11.9, with just four hits allowed in 17.1 IP. Stoelke was nearly unhittable last year in the New York-Penn League, but has an ERA of 5.25 this year.

Greensboro will get Cristofer Melendez and Will Gardner from extended spring training. The Pirates acquired Melendez in the minor league phase of Rule 5 last winter. (He was actually claimed by the Padres and the Pirates got him for Sid Cash.) Gardner was a late-round draft pick last year.