The Pirates announced that they have claimed left-handed reliever Jack Leathersich off waivers from the Cubs and optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. Leathersich, 27, had been designated for assignment over the weekend as the Cubs tweaked their 40-man roster to accommodate the arrival of some September promotions.
Leathersich debuted with the Mets back in 2015 but missed the latter portion of the season due to Tommy John surgery. He worked his way back to throw 23 1/3 innings across multiple minor league levels last year and has had a strong season with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017. Through 44 1/3 innings this year, he’s pitched to a 2.84 ERA and averaged a whopping 14.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Leathersich, though, has also averaged 5.7 walks per nine frames pitched, and control has long been an issue for the southpaw. He’s averaged nearly 15 K/9 over the life of his professional career but has also averaged 5.0 BB/9.
The Pirates will have about four weeks to potentially bring Leathersich up to the Majors and get a look at him with expanded September rosters in place, if the team wishes. Leathersich does have a minor league option remaining beyond the current season, so the Bucs can take a look at him next spring and option him to Triple-A without needing to risk exposing him to waivers. Of course, that also assumes that he’ll survive the winter on Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster, which is far from a given.