April 15th. That’s the last time any of us saw Luis Oviedo pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched 2 innings and gave up one run. This was 3 days after his last outing in which he had by far his worst. In 1.2 innings he gave up 5 runs facing 12 batters.
He’s only had 4 total outings this season and as a Rule FIve pick who never played beyond A ball, I can’t say I expected to see a ton of him this year, but that was before I saw him pitch.
I liked his moxie, his stuff and I guess, I just liked the idea of using him rather than hiding him. I’d like to think when the Pirates send him down after the season and his rights are secured probably to AAA to work on building up into the starting pitcher he was before they acquired him.
Again, if the plan was to hide him, I’d get that too, but not after what he showed us. Sure you can look at those five runs alone and come to the conclusion he should just wear a number and sit at the end of the bench in the bullpen, but baseball players need to play as my friend Jim just mentioned to me as we discussed this situation on my Fan Forum Podcast.
So, what are the Pirates doing here?
They’ve been down big, they’ve been up enough it would seem to me to sneak him in. After his poor outing against the Padres, Derek Shelton mentioned the need to not go such a stretch of games without pitching the young fireballer and true to his word he trotted him back out again 3 days later. But that was it.
Now we’re back to another long stretch of not seeing him.
Here’s what I got.
Oviedo has a killer curve ball, and a really nice slider that he struggles to control. A mid to upper 90s 4 seam fastball, and a changeup he scarcely uses.
It’s possible the Pirates are working with him to develop that changeup. As it stands now, hitters can gear up on the fastball and pick up spin on everything else to either just spit on it or wait for a mistake. Adding to and building upon that changeup could help Oviedo both this year and in the future.
Maybe they’re working on his spin rate on his slider, after all controlling it has been incredibly difficult and has created more walks than the club can accept out of the pen.
No matter what, we’ll know soon.
At this point it’s unmistakable they don’t trust him and have no issue hiding him. The longer it goes on the more questions that will come up, especially as seemingly tailor made situations crop up to use him.
At some point this season the Pirates will have three rule five picks on their 26-man roster, Luis Oviedo, Ka’ai Tom and Jose Soriano. That’s going to be difficult to navigate even if they were to use each of them regularly, maybe that’s part of the reason they’re working with Luis behind the scenes so intently right now, so by the time they add in their third he is no longer a liability but instead a real asset.