I would read the Pirates’ decision to DFA Wandy Rodriguez today as a signal that the club realizes that they’re in a very serious amount of trouble in regards to contending in 2014 and that they can no longer mess around with players who are actively hurting their chances to win when better options exist in Triple-A. If I were Edinson Volquez, that knowledge would make me awfully nervous. In his last three starts, Volquez has 12 strikeouts, 8 walks, and a 8.31 ERA allowed in 21 2/3 innings. He’s allowed 24 hits, 20 runs, and a ridiculous eight home runs in those four starts. He’s been just about as awful as human possibly in this stretch, and he can’t continue on like this for much longer. I strongly suspect that he won’t be allowed to make more than one or two more bad starts before some kind of change is made.*
This is a deceptively important series against the Nationals this weekend. While it’s perfectly fair to note that the Pirates are much closer in the wild card race than the NL Central (5 1/2 games vs. 8 games), it’s important to not forget that they’re still behind everyone in the National League that isn’t the Cubs or the Diamondbacks. They really can’t afford to drop games to teams like the Nats right now. Well, they can’t afford to drop games in general, but they really can’t afford to drop games to teams like the Nats.
Anyway, Volquez aside, Russell Martin has been activated for tonight’s game but will be unavailable due to his suspension for his role the Easter Sunday Brawl, which is why Tony Sanchez hasn’t been sent back to Triple-A yet. The Nationals are starting Blake Treinen, who’s taken Gio Gonzalez’s place in the rotation for now. He’s been excellent in limited action for the Nats this year and got off to a really good start with Triple-A Harrisburg, but started the season off of the prospect radar and was never all that impressive in the past. First pitch tonight is at 7:05.
*I wouldn’t mind moving him to the bullpen, honestly; I think that he’d be pretty interesting as a reliever if he can combine his new-found control from this year with the blazing stuff that he’s occasionally shown in the past. It’d be worth a shot to put him in the Jeanmar Gomez role for a while, I think.