The Pirates announced today that they’ve selected the contract of right-handed reliever Richard Rodriguez and recalled fellow righty Kyle Crick. Both players were pitching for the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. To make room on the big league roster, right-hander Clay Holmes and left-hander Josh Smoker were optioned to Triple-A.
Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster was at a count of 38 players prior to Rodriguez’s selection, so there’ll be no 40-man move necessary to accommodate him, and the team can even make another addition without needing to open further space. The 28-year-old Rodriguez, a longtime Astros farmhand, broke into the Majors with the Orioles in 2017 but tallied just 4 2/3 frames with Baltimore at the big league level.
Rodriguez, though, has carved up Triple-A hitters dating back to 2015, working to a 2.54 ERA with a 221-to-65 K/BB ratio in in 219 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate has steadily risen on a year-over-year basis, topping out at 10.2 K/9 in 2017, and he’s already whiffed nine in five shutout innings this season. Last year with the O’s, Rodriguez’s fastball sat at 93.8 mph in his brief big league audition.
As for Crick, he was one of two pieces acquired in the trade that sent franchise icon Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates to the Giants. The former supplemental first-rounder and top prospect shifted to the bullpen with quite a bit of success in 2017, punching out 12 hitters per nine innings with a 2.76 ERA in Triple-A. That prompted a big league call-up for Crick in San Francisco, where he’d go on to log a 3.06 ERA in 32 1/3 innings — albeit with much more pedestrian marks of 7.8 K/9 against 4.8 BB/9. Crick averaged 95.5 mph on his heater, though, and was superb at limiting hard contact in his time with the Giants (20.5 percent).
The Pirates undoubtedly hope that he can be a viable bullpen weapon in Pittsburgh, as the hard-throwing 25-year-old can be controlled through the 2023 season. He’d allowed one run with five strikeouts and no walks through four innings of relief thus far in Triple-A this year.