Pittsburgh Pirates: Post Deadline Pitching Staff Takes Shape as Luis Oviedo Shelled in First Start

Photo Credit: MLB.com

 The Pittsburgh Pirates dropped the opening contest of their three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers, by the score of 9-0.

With the Pirates in the process of trading Tyler Anderson, they scratched him from his scheduled start on Tuesday, paving the way for Luis Oviedo to make his first major league start.

It did not go well.

The 22-year old Rule 5 draft pick was hammered in 1+ innings pitched, allowed eight runs (six earned) before giving way to the bullpen.

After an Omar Narvaez two run home run and Lorenzo Cain RBI single, the Brewers found themselves with a 3-0 lead before the Pirates could even come to bat. A rare error by shortstop Kevin Newman put a runner on to extend the inning for Narvaez to hit his ninth home run of the season. 

The second inning is where things fell off the wagon, as Oviedo allowed five straight base runners before finally getting the hook.

Rowdy Tellez hit a two-run single to close the books on Oviedo, pushing the lead to 8-0. After that, the Pirates pitching staff settled in and only allowed one run the rest of the way.

The Pirates themselves to just four hits, and the were shutout at home for the first time since May 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Ben Gamel and Jacob Stallings record a pair of singles a piece for the only bit of offense on the night.

They'll pick up their three game series up on Wednesday with a first pitch expected at 7:05. Adrian Houser (6-5, 3.88 ERA) is expected to start for the Brewers, while the Pirates don't have a current projected starter at the moment. Max Kranick is in Pittsburgh currently, and is the likely player to get the nod.

Observations from the game

There wasn't much good to talk about here, no surprise when you were four-hit shutout and also allowed nine runs on the night.

It's been an unfortunate cliff that Oviedo has fallen off of, but it was expected to an extent. In his first two appearances, the 22-year old right allowed just a lone run in three innings while also striking out five batters.

Since then he has posted a 10.80 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. He's allowed more earned runs (20) and almost as many walks (15) as he has innings pitched since his first two outings.

Oviedo hadn't pitched above Class-A before this season, and all of a sudden was in a major league bullpen. Struggles were expected. Although ideally not to this extent but they had to of ben expected. 

Things certainly weren't working for him, even more than usual Tuesday night, as not only was the start on short notice but also it was his first appearance back in the majors in over a month. The odds were stacked again him, so it wasn't really surprising things went this way.

Although, you can only wonder how things might have gone had Newman had made that play and Oviedo was able to get out of the first inning without allowing a run.

Oviedo has a decent arsenal of pitches, and he is still just 22. He's taking his licks and beatings now, and will get to develop under a more controlled situation in the minors next year. This year, the only thing that should matter is he stays healthy and gather whatever experience he can get in the mean time.

How about that outing from Cody Ponce

The last time Ponce pitched in the majors was at the beginning of the month, against the Brewers, and it went exactly the opposite as it did this time around. In his July 3 start against Milwaukee, the 27-year old Ponce threw just 1 2/3 innings allowing five runs and walking three.

This time around he allowed just three hits across five innings while striking out five hitters. The threw 79 pitches 50 of which were for strikes. He also showed good bite on his curveball and slider, generating a 41.1% whiff rate with the pitches.

Pittsburgh has already traded two of their pitchers on their staff already heading into the trade deadline and have a few more that they are expected to move out by Saturday. All of this means that the Pirates are going to need some players to step up and fill some innings for the rest of the season.

For a player like Ponce it could be the difference between keeping a roster spot going into next season, and being a DFA target for the pending roster crunch. While he isn't likely in the team's plans beyond this season, they may need to rely on him to become an innings eater for the rest of the way.

Nick Mears is another name that is growing on me, and his versatility to throw multiple innings could get him a really good look for the rest of the year as well. He's struck out four in as many innings this year, and has allowed just a single run on the season.

He hadn't lit the world on fire in Indianapolis, allowing 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings, but did punch out 25 batters in that same span. Mears, 24, is ranked as the Pirates 32nd ranked prospect on Fangraphs and they believe he has the fastball to settle in a seventh or eighth inning role in the future.

Now is as good a time to see if they can start heading down that path.

What did you think of Ponce's performance on Tuesday? Do you think he should get an actual start to see where he stands? Does he potentially have a future with the Pirates? Lets us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy.

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