Pittsburgh Pirates Wake Up call: Neverauskas as the odd man out?

In our daily Wake-Up Call, we get you ready for the day with a complete look at all things Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are slogging through the “dog days” of the Spring Training schedule. For fans, picking out which performances mean something and which do not can be a tedious exercise at this point in the spring sessions.

With a club that is practically set on position players and starting pitchers, the only true engaging roster competition is found in the relief unit.

We saw the bullpen start to take shape, and yesterday’s poor outing from Dovydas Neverauskas might further help us prognosticate on the ‘pen’s makeup. The Lithuanian product struggled through his one inning of work yesterday, giving up four earned runs on four hits. He struck out one and also walked one.

Neverauskas had had a tough go of it this spring, with a 9.0 ERA across five appearances (4.2 innings). He has struck out six and walked two. With A.J. Schugel still dealing with shoulder discomfort, Neverauskas had a clear advantage to grabbing one of the precious few bullpen slots, yet his history shows that perhaps he might not fit in to the new look Pittsburgh Pirates relief corps regardless.

In his major-league debut 2017 season, the right hander posted a 16.2 percent strikeout rate, after posting AAA marks of 21.6 percent in 2017 and 18.2 percent in 2016. Those marks are well below a level considered “above average” for a relief pitcher; maybe we could even say that it was well below average, with the major league 2017 rate at 23.3 percent. The ability to miss bats can take you far as a reliever, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have loaded up on swing and miss for this year’s pen.

It is not as if Neverauskas is struggling to learn to miss bats a the major-league level, either. Despite a 25-game blip at Double-A Altoona in which he struck out 30.3 percent of hitters faced, he had never struck out more than the 21.6 he posted last season.

While an out is an out, and Neverauskas has shown an ability to get outs at the major league level, he cannot afford poor performances in Spring Training without the fall-back ability to generate his share of whiff.

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Baseball talk on the web

  • Just one piece for you today, and it’s a good one. Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) put out a great piece on how the Pittsburgh Pirates plan to get creative on the basepaths.

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Jason Rollison

Jason Rollison has been analyzing baseball and the Pirates in one way or another for 4+ years. Jason's previous stops include rumbunter.com, Pittsburgh Sporting News, Call To The Pen and several print publications. He also covers the State College Spikes for the Centre County Gazette (State College, PA) When it comes to analyzing baseball, he likes to take a middle-of-the-road approach, with one foot on the analytics side of the fence and the other on the old-school side. Having said that, he is a sucker for pitchf/x. Jason has appeared as a phone-in and in-studio guests in numerous outlets, including Trib Live Radio and 93.7 The Fan (CBS Sports Radio)