Bucs 'pen loses impact pair in Crick, Holmes

July 28th, 2020

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates’ already-thin bullpen took two more hits on Tuesday, as the club placed right-handers and on the 10-day injured list.

The club announced that Crick, who has pitched with diminished velocity dating back to Summer Camp, is sidelined with a right shoulder/lat muscle strain. Holmes, who pitched well in Friday’s Opening Day loss to the Cardinals, is out with a right forearm strain.

The severity of both injuries is currently unknown, as the Pirates announced the moves after manager Derek Shelton addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon.

To take their spots, Pittsburgh recalled right-hander and selected the contract of left-hander . Both pitchers were working out at the club’s alternate training site camp in Altoona, Pa., after spending most of Summer Camp with the big league club at PNC Park.

Crick began facing hitters during Summer Camp later than most of his teammates, and his fastball has not had the same zip as in previous years. The last three years, the right-hander’s fastball clocked in around 95 mph. The 11 fastballs he has thrown this season averaged 91.4 mph, according to Statcast, and the average spin rate on his slider was also down.

The Pirates were counting on Crick to be one of their top high-leverage options out of the bullpen to start this season, as they are without closer Keone Kela (COVID-19) and right-hander Edgar Santana (suspended).

Now, they are left with a back-end trio that likely includes right-handers Nick Burdi, Michael Feliz and Richard Rodríguez. Burdi has great stuff but little experience, while Feliz and Rodríguez have been successful at times but inconsistent. Swingman Chris Stratton also has the potential to join that group, though he’s been deployed in a variety of roles to utilize his versatility.

Holmes looked sharp in his season debut on Friday, spinning a swing-and-miss curveball past the Cardinals’ bats, but he was noticeably not used during the Bucs’ 6-5 loss to the Brewers on Monday night. The Pirates have long been high on his potential, and they believed coming out of Summer Camp that he was ready to be a bigger part of their bullpen.

Losing Holmes leaves the Pirates with a middle-relief corps that includes Stratton, right-hander Dovydas Neverauskas, converted starter JT Brubaker, lefties Nik Turley and Robbie Erlin and now Hartlieb and Del Pozo.