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.