7-3-21 By Craig W. Toth @BucsBasement on Twitter
Prior to the start of the season Cody Ponce was poised to at least compete for a spot in the rotation, or at the very least a place in the bullpen after his performance during 2020, where he was regularly used as the extra body in doubleheaders; starting in three of them. On the year he posted a 3.18 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and 12 strikeouts versus 6 walks in 17.0 innings of work. At the time Pirates Fans were calling for him to be given a shot as starter for the remainder of the shortened season.
Unfortunately for Ponce, he was placed on the 10-Day IL with a forearm issue at the beginning of April, following only two short appearances in Spring Training. He would ultimately be assigned to the Alternate Site, and eventually the Indianapolis Indians to begin the season. Ponce would make a spot start at the end of May for the Pirates, but had spent the majority of his time with the Indians earning a 5.60 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in seven starts with the AAA Club. That was until he was unceremoniously promoted back up to the Pirates in place of Max Kranick, who had tossed five perfect innings in his Major League Debut.
Originally slated for the bullpen by Derek Shelton on his arrival, Ponce got the start on Saturday and almost instantaneously imploded; giving up 5 runs on 6 hits, as he walked and struck out three a piece before being removed from the game with right arm soreness. Meanwhile, Kranick surrendered a grand slam in the first inning of his start in Indianapolis; but you just know it would have gone better for him at PNC Park because of that’s the preferred perspective. Sure you can argue that Kranick’s performance this past Sunday should have earned him at least one more start in MLB, however, you could also argue Ponce’s outings last year also made him deserving of a shot at cracking the roster more long term this time around.
In the end they both became almost moot points, as the Pirates offense, defense and parts of the remaining pitching staff allowed 6 additional runs and were able to only produce a couple in their 11-2 loss at the hands of the Brewers.
News and Notes
- Prior to the game, the Pirates acquired first baseman John Nogowski from the Cardinals for cash considerations, and overall depth at the position. Now, not that depth isn’t important, this move makes little sense to me as you have Phillip Evans at the MLB level and Will Craig-who is batting .292 with 8 homers- in AAA; along with Christian Bethcourt, a catcher by trade, that is also doing pretty well with his .291 AVG and 4 homers. Nogowski on the other hand has batted .195 in AAA and .056 for the Cardinals this season.
- In other moves Ka’ai Tom was placed on the 10-Day IL, Kyle Keller was recalled and Geoff Hartlieb was DFA’d.
- Duane Underwood, Jr. has done some pretty good mop up work lately. In his past seven appearances Underwood, Jr. has a 3.07 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP across 14.2 innings.
- Ke’Bryan Hayes is officially slumping. In his last 27 at bats he has a slash line of .111/.138/.148.
- On days like these for the Pirates we often find ourselves looking to the Minor League Affiliates for hope and excitement. Mason Martin provided both of those by blasting three home runs in Altoona’s double against the Hartford Yard Goats. Martin now has 12 long balls on the year.
The Pirates and Brewers are back in action at 1:05 PM EST in an Independence Day Matinee, as Pittsburgh looks to avoid the four game sweep, and stop their current six game skid.
For your Buccos, Tyler Anderson (3-8, 4.75 ERA), the bullpen saver, takes the mound against Freddy Peralta (7-2, 2.17 ERA) for the Brew Crew, who are on currently on an 11 game tear.