Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Pirates Call Up Former Athletics Pitcher for Big Reds Series

The Pittsburgh Pirates have called up pitcher Daulton Jefferies in time for Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates acquired Jefferies in a May 10 trade with the San Francisco Giants for minor league outfielder Rodolfo Nolasco. To make room for Jefferies, the Pirates have optioned pitcher Justin Bruihl, who they acquired on June 6, to triple-A Indianapolis.

It was rumored that Jefferies would be called up to make a start in Colorado last weekend, but manager Derek Shelton used bullpen games instead. However, when Jefferies was scratched from Sunday’s start for Indianapolis, it seemed apparent he was going to Pittsburgh. There’s been no word on how he’ll be used. He’ll likely fill an immediate need in the bullpen while also being a candidate to fill the fifth starter’s spot when it comes up in the rotation.

Pirates Call Up Daulton Jefferies on Monday

Jefferies’ promotion is based more on need and lack of worthy candidates than on merit. In five starts for the triple-A Indianapolis Indians, Jefferies has pitched just 20 2/3 innings. His record there is 1-1 to go with a hideous 6.10 ERA, 1.742 WHIP, and 1.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, with Martín Pérez, Quinn Priester, and Marco Gonzales on the injured list, the only healthy options on the Pirates’ 40-man roster are Jefferies and young Braxton Ashcraft. Ashcraft was only recently promoted to triple-A and has made just one start there.

Other starters at Indy who have major league experience are Domingo Germán and Michael Plassmeyer. Neither is on the 40-man roster. Adding one of them to the active roster would require somebody to be dropped from the 40-man. With 11 players currently on the IL, that’s not appetizing to the Pirates at this time. When they added Josh Fleming to the active roster on Friday, they had to designate recently acquired Niko Goodrum for assignment before he even had a chance to report to Indianapolis and fill out his Form W-4. They don’t want to drop anybody else. In any event, Germán and Plassmeyer have put up worse numbers than Jefferies. In an organization that thought itself deep in pitching, Jefferies may become the Pirates’ fifth starter by default.

Pirates are Desperate for Starters

The desperate need for a fifth starter arose when Pérez and Priester went on the IL in rapid succession. The Pirates successfully employed bullpen games, winning against the Minnesota Twins on June 8 and the Rockies on Friday and Saturday. However, those games took their toll on the bullpen. On June 9, with many of his relievers unavailable, Shelton had to leave Ben Heller in the game in the 10th inning, despite Heller giving up seven runs. Heller and his 49.50 ERA have since been designated for assignment. One of the feel-good stories behind the Heller signing was his reunion with hometown pal Colin Holderman. Now they’ll have to go back to texting one another.

Additionally, the Pirates lost to the Rockies on Saturday, 16-4, as their bullpen got shelled, again because some relievers weren’t available. Nothing went right for the Pirates that day.

Shelton probably wants a fifth starter to settle in as opposed to any further bullpen games. The fifth starter’s turn lines up with what would have been Jeffferies’ turn with Indianapolis. Hence, there were many reasons why the Pirates called up Jefferies.

A Second Second Chance

Meanwhile, the 28-year-old right-hander will welcome the chance to prove himself on the major league level. After being drafted No. 1 by the Oakland Athletics in the 2016 June Amateur Draft, Jefferies had a rough go of it in three seasons with Oakland until his career was derailed by injuries in 2022. He spent part of 2022 and all of 2023 rehabbing from Tommy John and thoracic outlet surgeries. Although the Giants moved on from Jefferies after two bad outings in 2024, at least he proved he was healthy.

Bruihl got plenty of work in his 10 days as a Pirate. He appeared in six games and gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings. Despite being effective in most of his outings, he’s the odd man out in this latest roster shuffle.

The Last Word

Unfortunately, there’s nothing in Jefferies’ minor or major league record to suggest that he can fill the fifth starter’s spot capably. Then again, nothing matters less than yesterday. It’s a strange year in the National League, with 10 teams packed together tightly in the wild card race. The notion that every game is important was never more meaningful than it is now. How Jefferies performs as a fifth starter, and for how long, may have a lot to say about the race in the end.

Main Photo: © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports


More Posts

Send Us A Message