Pittsburgh Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-09-18T05:33:17Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Notes: Searage, Rodriguez, Kuhl, Offseason]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132925 2018-09-16T18:54:26Z 2018-09-16T18:54:26Z The Pirates announced today that pitching coach Ray Searage will undergo cervical neck surgery this week (Twitter links via Adam Berry of MLB.com). He’s expected to resume his coaching duties once he’s sufficiently recovered, but he’ll cede those responsibilities to assistant pitching coach Justin Meccage for the time being. The 63-year-old Searage is widely regarded as one of the league’s best coaches, thanks largely to the Buccos’ numerous successful reclamation projects over the past several years (e.g. A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, Juan Nicasio). Best wishes to Searage in his recovery.

A bit more out of Pittsburgh…

  • Right-hander Richard Rodriguez, it seems, is another example of Searage’s positive impact on the club. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke to the 28-year-old Rodriguez about his breakout with the Pirates this season, and Rodriguez revealed that many of his teammates in the Dominican Winter League this past offseason, including Wandy Rodriguez, Edwin Espinal and Reese McGuire, vouched for Searage and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas as coaches who could strongly benefit the righty. Rodriguez first heard from the Bucs in November but was mulling interest from multiple clubs when teammates urged him to go to Pittsburgh. Brink chats with Rodriguez about his disappointment over quickly being cut loose by the Orioles after finally debuting last season as well as his long journey to the big leagues. He’s been a revelation for the Pirates, notching a terrific 2.61 ERA with 11.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.73 HR/9 and a 34.5 percent ground-ball rate in 62 innings.
  • Right-hander Chad Kuhl is set to be examined by Dr. David Altchek in New York this Tuesday after suffering a setback in his rehab from forearm/elbow tightness, tweets Biertempfel of The Athletic. Kuhl hasn’t taken the mound in a game since June 26 but was said to be progressing toward a return until he felt renewed tightness in his arm when prepping for a bullpen session on Tuesday.
  • In a full column (subscription link), Biertempfel looks at all of the players who were new to the Pirates’ Major League roster this season and examines their future. Notably, he speculates that right-hander Ivan Nova could emerge as a winter trade candidate in advance of the final season of his contract, while outfielder Corey Dickerson could be a candidate to be approached about a modest extension following the trade of Austin Meadows and the shoulder surgery for Gregory Polanco. Nova will earn $8.5MM next year and currently has a 4.07 ERA with 6.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 45.4 percent ground-ball rate in 152 2/3 innings. Dickerson, meanwhile, has faded after a huge start to the season but is hitting .289/.320/.449 with 11 homers and a vastly improved strikeout rate (24.2 percent in ’17, 15.1 percent in ’18). He’s also posted sensational defensive metrics (+13 DRS, +7.7 UZR) after previously grading out as a below-average defender.
Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Pirates Shut Down Keone Kela For Rest Of Season]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132866 2018-09-15T22:22:29Z 2018-09-15T22:22:29Z
  • The Pirates have shut reliever Keone Kela down for the season, as per a statement released to media (including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).  Kela, acquired from the Rangers at the July trade deadline, has a 2.93 ERA over 15 1/3 innings for the Bucs but he hasn’t taken the mound since September 3.  He has thrown 52 total innings for Pittsburgh and Texas this season, which GM Neal Huntington cited as the reason for the shutdown.  “This was primarily based on his high leverage workload this year compared to the previous two seasons,” Huntington said in the statement.  The decision was made to give Kela “an optimal amount of rest and recovery to be ready in spring training 2019.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Gregory Polanco Out Seven To Nine Months Following Shoulder Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132717 2018-09-14T18:11:31Z 2018-09-14T18:10:50Z Sept. 14: The Pirates announced that Polanco’s surgery also repaired a torn labrum — an injury that severely clouds his outlook for the beginning of the 2019 season. Pittsburgh’s press release notes that typical recovery would be in the range of seven to nine months. Even the short end of that time frame would put Polanco on track for a return in mid April, making it likely that he’ll open next season on the disabled list. If he’s closer to nine months, though, Polanco could be out until early summer of next season.

    With Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Jordan Luplow, Adam Frazier and Jose Osuna all on hand, the Bucs do have some depth in the outfield, though the subtraction of Austin Meadows in July’s Chris Archer swap removed one high-upside candidate from the mix.

    Sept. 12: The Pirates announced today that outfielder Gregory Polanco is undergoing left shoulder surgery. He suffered a dislocation upon sliding into second base this past Friday, and a second opinion from Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York confirmed that diagnosis while also recommending surgery to stabilize the shoulder. It was already known that Polanco would be out for the remainder of the season due to a bone bruise in his left knee that will require at least six weeks of rehab, but the news on his shoulder is nonetheless an unwelcome development for the 26-year-old.

    Meanwhile, the Bucs delivered some ominous news surrounding the health of right-hander Chad Kuhl, as well. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets that Kuhl’s scheduled bullpen session was preempted yesterday when he felt renewed forearm/elbow tightness while throwing from flat ground. He’s already been out since late June and is now seeking another opinion.

    For Polanco, there’s no indication that today’s surgery will impact his readiness for the 2019 season. Pittsburgh’s announcement indicates that further details on the procedure and an estimated recovery time will provided “at the appropriate time.” Depending on the severity of the damage in his shoulder and the findings of the surgeons during the procedure, there’s a fairly broad range of timetables that could ultimately be projected.

    The 2018 season was an uneven one for Polanco, who opened the season with roughly league-average output through the first two months of play before erupting with a .303/.382/.626 slash with 11 homers, nine doubles and four triples through 179 plate appearances in June and July. His production disappeared entirely in August (.666 OPS), though he looked to be back on track in the week leading up to his season-ending injury.

    Back in 2016, Polanco signed a five-year, $35MM contract extension that spans the 2017-21 seasons and also includes a pair of club options. He’s owed at least $27.5MM over the next three seasons under that deal — a figure that includes a $3MM buyout on a $12.5MM option for the 2022 season.

    As for Kuhl, hasn’t pitched since June 26 due to discomfort in that right forearm/elbow, and today’s setback is hardly an encouraging one for his immediate outlook. The Bucs will hope, of course, that surgery isn’t ultimately recommended, though forearm tightness has been known to be a precursor to ligament damage in the elbow.

    Kuhl, who turned 26 years of age yesterday, turned in 85 innings of 4.55 ERA ball with a career-high 8.6 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 through 16 starts for the Pirates earlier this year. That bottom-line output is roughly in line with his career marks; since debuting for the Pirates in 2016, Kuhl has pitched to a 4.37 ERA through 313 Major League innings (61 starts).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 9/10/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132589 2018-09-10T13:43:59Z 2018-09-10T13:43:59Z Here are Monday’s minor moves from around the game…

    • The Pirates outrighted left-handed reliever Buddy Boshers to Triple-A Indianapolis after he cleared waivers, per John Dreker of PiratesProspects.com (Twitter link). The 30-year-old lefty split the season between the Pittsburgh and Houston organizations but didn’t reach the Majors with either team. He’s posted a solid 3.32 ERA with 9.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9 and a 48 percent ground-ball rate through 57 Triple-A frames so far in 2018, but opposing lefties hit .303/.330/.434 against him this season. Boshers spent most of 2016-17 in the Majors with the Twins, pitching to a combined 4.56 ERA and generally holding lefties in check while struggling considerably against right-handed bats.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Revisiting Pirates' Acquisition Of Trevor Williams]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132518 2018-09-08T23:44:08Z 2018-09-08T23:44:08Z
  • With righty Trevor Williams on a roll for the Pirates, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald revisits the 2015 trade in which the Marlins sent the hurler to Pittsburgh for fellow righty Richard Mitchell and the right to hire pitching guru Jim Benedict from the Bucs. Williams ranked among the Marlins’ top prospects at the time, making the deal look good for Pittsburgh. It looks even better now, given that the 26-year-old Williams has allowed a combined four earned runs over his past nine starts – a 54 2/3-inning span – to improve his ERA/FIP to 3.15/4.16 across 148 2/3 frames this season. Considering Williams’ current performance and his affordable team control through 2022, not to mention what the Marlins got in the trade, losing him looks rather regrettable for the Fish. Former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria expected Benedict to fix the Marlins’ pitching staff, per Spencer. It didn’t happen, however, and Benedict’s now with the Cubs. Mitchell, meanwhile, was a non-prospect who never threw a pitch with the Miami organization and hasn’t played professionally since the end of his Pirates tenure.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Gregory Polanco To Miss Rest Of Season]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132500 2018-09-08T19:57:41Z 2018-09-08T19:43:44Z Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco suffered left knee and left shoulder injuries Friday that will force him to miss the rest of the season, the team announced. Polanco incurred “a significant bone bruise in his left knee,” one that will require six to eight weeks of rehab. The severity of his shoulder ailment isn’t clear at this time.

    At 70-71 and eight games behind an NL wild-card spot, the Pirates are essentially out of playoff contention as the regular season nears an end. Nevertheless, this is a concerning development for Pittsburgh, for which Polanco is a cornerstone player. The Pirates signed Polanco to a five-year, $35MM extension entering 2016, and he has largely lived up to that deal. Polanco struggled in 2017, though he has still managed a respectable 5.4 fWAR since signing the pact.

    The 26-year-old Polanco made major progress this season, as he posted personal-best numbers on the offensive side, hitting .254/.340/.499 (123 wRC+) with 23 home runs, a .245 ISO and an 11.4 percent walk rate in 534 plate appearances. He also stole 12 bases on 14 attempts. While Polanco did not grade well as a defender (minus-5 DRS, minus-1.5 UZR), his season will nonetheless end with a solid 2.5 fWAR.

    Based on the timetable for Polanco’s left knee, this injury shouldn’t affect him in 2019 or necessarily inform the Pirates’ outfield plans for next season. His shoulder may be another story, however, and Pittsburgh’s not yet in position to divulge specific information on that injury.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pirates Injury Notes: Kang, Kuhl]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132411 2018-09-07T05:01:45Z 2018-09-07T04:06:40Z
  • While there aren’t any postseason implications involved, the Pirates are hoping to get two of their players back as well, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Whether or not that’ll come at the MLB level isn’t yet clear, but the Bucs say they want to find “some type of competition” to end the year for infielder Jung Ho Kang and righty Chad Kuhl. Both have missed lengthy stretches, Kang with a wrist injury that arose in the wake of a an even longer layoff due to a DUI conviction and Kuhl with arm troubles. As Brink notes, it seems Kang’s option will likely be declined regardless, but the club still stands to gain information that could help dictate whether it pursues a reunion (and, if so, at what price). As for Kuhl, team director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk says the organization “would like him to get up to game intensity, game speed, before the end of the season so he has a basic general health status on the forearm and the elbow” — that is, the two areas that have caused problems for him thus far.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pirates Promote Kevin Kramer, Designate Buddy Boshers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132272 2018-09-04T18:58:45Z 2018-09-04T18:58:45Z The Pirates announced several September call-ups today, designating lefty Buddy Boshers to create roster space. Pittsburgh selected the contract of well-regarded middle-infield prospect Kevin Kramer along with that of journeyman catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

    Also heading up to the majors are a series of players who already possessed 40-man roster spots. Righties Tanner Anderson, Michael Feliz, and Clay Holmes will all join the organization for the stretch run, as will outfielder Jordan Luplow.

    Kramer will join Kevin Newman, another talented young infielder seen as part of the future, on the MLB roster. Chosen in the second round of the 2015 draft, Kramer is viewed as a solid all-around player. Certainly, he has impressed in the upper minors in the past two seasons, turning in identical 141 wRC+ figures in an injury-shortened 2017 at Double-A and in a full campaign this year at Triple-A.

    In his 527 plate appearances with Indianapolis in 2018, Kramer owns a .311/.365/.492 slash with 15 home runs and 13 steals. He has spent some time at shortstop in the minors, but the bulk of his innings of come at second base and that’s where he’s expected to play in the big leagues.

    As for Boshers, the 30-year-old southpaw has seen time in three MLB seasons but didn’t make it up in 2018. He has worked to a 3.32 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in his 57 frames at Triple-A, with time spent at both the Bucs’ and Astros’ top affiliates.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Release Sean Rodriguez, Select Pablo Reyes, Reinstate Nick Burdi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132025 2018-09-02T02:46:31Z 2018-09-02T02:46:31Z
  • The Pirates announced that they’ve selected infielder/outfielder Pablo Reyes from Triple-A Indianapolis and reinstated righty Nick Burdi from the 60-day DL. The club has also released veteran infielder/outfielder Sean Rodriguez, whom it designated for assignment Wednesday. A Pirate since they signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, the 24-year-old Reyes saw his first Triple-A action this season and slashed .289/.341/.435 with eight home runs and 13 stolen bases over 398 plate appearances. Burdi, whom the Pirates acquired via trade from the Phillies at the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, has rebounded nicely after multiple arm injuries slowed his development. The hard-throwing reliever missed most of 2016 with elbow issues and then underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017, keeping him out for the majority of that season and the current campaign. Despite his injury woes, Burdi – originally a second-round selection of the Twins in the 2014 amateur draft – still ranks as the Pirates’ 20th-best prospect, per MLB.com. Now that he’s healthy, the former Rule 5 choice will have to spend 90 days on the Pirates’ active roster in order to avoid going on waivers.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[August 31st Trade Deadline Recap]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131979 2018-09-01T16:35:07Z 2018-09-01T15:42:28Z A flurry of activity came yesterday in advance of the deadline to acquire postseason-eligible players via trade. In case you weren’t able to keep track of it all, here’s a roundup of the swaps made by MLB organizations on August 31st, 2018, sorted by the team on the acquiring end of the major-leaguer involved.

    AL West

    AL Central

    • The Indians acquired Josh Donaldson from the Blue Jays. Toronto will send $2.7MM to Cleveland as well, and they’ll get back a player to be named later, the quality of which will be dependent upon how Donaldson’s health situation progresses.

    AL East

    • The Yankees took Adeiny Hechavarria off the Pirates’ hands in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. It’s not yet known how much cash the Bucs will chip in to help pay the ~$1MM still owed to Hechavarria.
    • The Yankees also pried Andrew McCutchen from the Giants. San Francisco gets infield prospect Abiatal Avelino and right-handed pitching prospect Juan De Paula.

    NL West

    NL Central

    NL East

    • (No trades)
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yankees Acquire Adeiny Hechavarria]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131960 2018-09-01T05:23:41Z 2018-09-01T04:49:31Z The Yankees have announced that they have acquired shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from the Pirates. Cash will also go to New York in the deal, with a player to be named later or cash considerations heading back to Pittsburgh. New York designated southpaw Ryan Bollinger to open a 40-man spot.

    Hechavarria is not much of a hitter, but is widely regarded as a high-quality defender at shortstop. He’ll presumably be viewed as a late-inning defensive asset for the Yanks, who have a variety of options around the infield as situations warrant. And with Didi Gregorius still working back from injury, Hechavarria also represents something of an insurance policy.

    Thus far in 2018, Hechavarria has slashed .254/.287/.342 in 284 plate appearances. That’s nearly an exact match for his lifetime batting line of .255/.291/.345, compiled over nearly three thousand trips to the plate, so there isn’t much mystery about his offensive capabilities.

    With the glove, Hech continues to draw well-above-average grades, so the situation is clear there as well. He has played almost exclusively at short in his career, but did see time as a rookie at second and third base as well.

    This is now the second time Hechavarria has changed hands in August. Earlier in the month, he went from the Rays to the Bucs. Now, he’ll move again, with both of those organizations still responsible for a portion of the remainder of his $5.9MM salary. Hechavarria will be a free agent at the end of the year.

    While it’s still possible the Pirates will pick up a minor prospect in this swap, it seems rather clear that the move was designed to clear a bit of salary and keep the roster clear for younger players. As with the late-breaking trade of David Freese, the move came at the very tail end of tonight’s deadline for teams to acquire players with postseason eligibility.

    It’s another unfortunate break for Bollinger in a season that has otherwise surely been out of a dream. He has twice made it onto the MLB roster after an unlikely journey, but has yet to throw a ball in a big-league contest. The 27-year-old carries a 3.87 ERA in 111 2/3 innings in the upper minors most of them at Double-A, with 7.8 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers Acquire David Freese]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131954 2018-09-01T05:14:13Z 2018-09-01T04:28:58Z The Dodgers have acquired David Freese in a swap with the Pirates, as first reported by Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). Infielder Jesus Valdez goes to Pittsburgh in the deal, per a club announcement.

    While we’re learning about this after the deadline for players to be acquired with postseason eligibility, it stands to reason that the sides completed the deal beforehand. If so, Freese will be able to appear in the playoffs this year, though there’s no assurance he’ll command a roster spot if and when the time comes.

    Of course, no small part of Freese’s stature as a player comes from his prior postseason heroics. Beyond the memorable moments themselves, he’s a .282/.357/.517 hitter in 196 playoff plate appearances.

    True, Freese hasn’t been in such a situation since way back in 2014. But he has continued to turn in solid campaigns since. This year, he’s slashing a sturdy .283/.337/.447 in 261 plate appearances for the Bucs. Freese has actually been a bit better against righties this year, but has been a hundred OPS points better against lefties over his career.

    Freese becomes the third right-handed-hitting infielder picked up by the Dodgers this summer, joining Manny Machado and Brian Dozier. He won’t likely see as much time as that middle-infield pairing; rather, he’ll presumably function as a bench bat against lefties.

    In Valdez, the Pirates get a 20-year-old who is in his debut season in the Dominican Summer League. He has played all over the infield, mostly on the left side, while hitting .230/.343/.412 with six home runs and 16 steals in 242 plate appearances.

    Freese is earning $4.25MM this year, about $700K of which remains to be paid. He’s also controllable for 2019 via a $6MM club option that comes with a $500K buyout. The teams’ announcements make no mention of any money changing hands in the deal.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Designate Sean Rodriguez For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131654 2018-08-29T21:46:23Z 2018-08-29T21:23:52Z The Pirates have designated infielder/outfielder Sean Rodriguez for assignment, manager Clint Hurdle told reporters (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Adam Berry). His roster spot will go to shortstop Jordy Mercer, who has been activated from the disabled list.

    Rodriguez, 33, has been unable to regain his footing in his second stint with the Pirates. The versatile utilityman had a career year in Pittsburgh back in 2016 and inked a two-year contract with the Braves in free agency that winter, only to suffer a major shoulder injury in an offseason car accident. Rodriguez required surgery to repair the rotator cuff in his left shoulder following the crash, and while he returned ahead of schedule in 2017, the results simply haven’t been there.

    In 326 plate appearances between Atlanta and Pittsburgh across the past two seasons, Rodriguez has managed just a .167/.277/.305 slash. That’s a far cry from the hefty .270/.349/.510 line he authored in the aforementioned 2016 campaign. Pittsburgh will have a week to trade, outright or release Rodriguez, who’ll likely be on the hunt for a minor league contract this offseason as he looks to rebuild some stock following a pair of injury-ruined seasons.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Josh Harrison Clears Trade Waivers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131515 2018-08-28T13:14:03Z 2018-08-28T13:14:03Z Pirates utilityman Josh Harrison has cleared revocable trade waivers, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). That means the veteran can be traded freely for the rest of the season — though he’d need to be moved by the end of August to be eligible for postseason play with a new organization.

    Of course, clearing waivers hardly indicates a player is likely to be dealt. In this case, there’s no particular indication to this point that the Bucs are expected to find a taker for the 31-year-old.

    It’s still notable, though, that Harrison is now among the players known to have cleared waivers. Those and others are still available for contenders in need of further upgrades.

    There’s always a reason when a player does make it through waivers. Sometimes, it’s because no contending teams expect that player to be traded, as with some younger/more controllable players. Quite often, it’s simply a value proposition: placing a claim means you’re willing to take over a player’s entire contract, as the team that sought waivers has the option of revoking the waiver request, working out a trade, or simply allowing the claiming team to step into its shoes in the agreement.

    This case, surely, is one of the latter variety. Harrison is earning a $10MM salary this year and is owed $1.5MM in buyouts on successive club options that are priced at $10.5MM and $11.5MM.

    At times, those prices have seemed reasonable for Harrison, who at his best adds value in all facets of the game. He has appeared in the rumor mill as a possible trade candidate quite frequently in recent years. Unfortunately, his bat has been inconsistent in recent seasons and has never produced anything like the output he showed in the breakout 2014 campaign that preceded his extension with Pittsburgh.

    Thus far in 2018, Harrison is hitting just .257/.299/.365 with seven home runs over 343 plate appearances. There’s not a lot to love in the underlying  numbers, either. Statcast, for instance, suggests that his contact quality has merited exactly the middling output that has resulted (.288 wOBA vs. .291 xwOBA).

    It’s fair to note, too, that defensive metrics have soured on Harrison, who normally grades as a clear positive. That said, he’s still receiving only slightly below-average marks and it’s hard to read too much into those figures. While he isn’t stealing as many bags as he has in past seasons, Harrison still rates as a quality overall baserunner.

    All things considered, it’s still reasonable to imagine contending teams liking the idea of adding Harrison down the stretch, though clearly they’ll need some help with the salary — especially, the option buyouts — to make it worthwhile. If the Bucs decide they won’t pay Harrison in 2019, then perhaps the club will be willing to hold onto the option obligations and work out a deal. While the Pittsburgh organization made some buy-side moves at the non-waiver deadline, after all, it has since faded out of contention.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Inside Chris Archer's Slump]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131435 2018-08-27T04:22:26Z 2018-08-27T04:22:26Z
  • Chris Archer allowed six runs in four innings in the Pirates’ loss to the Brewers today, and the right-hander now has a 6.45 ERA over five starts in a Pittsburgh uniform.  Needless to say, this isn’t what the Bucs were hoping for after landing Archer for a hefty prospect package at the trade deadline, though Archer himself doesn’t feel he’s that far off his usual form.  Archer told reporters, including The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel, that he thinks his struggles are “based on some minor things here and there that are easily adjustable.”  Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage feels Archer needs to pitch inside more often and move his fastball around the strike zone, though the bottom line is, as Archer said, “I just have to be better, period.”
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