Rockies-Pirates postponed after 1 inning; makeup on Monday
PITTSBURGH (AP) — On the diamond, Juan Nicasio demonstrated part of the problem with Pittsburgh’s rotation, allowing a pair of quick extra-base hits Sunday.
Off the field, general manager Neal Huntington talked about a potential solution to the Pirates’ pitching problem: the progress of top-rated prospect Jameson Taillon in Triple-A.
The game between the Colorado Rockies and Pirates was postponed because of rain after one inning. The Rockies led 1-0 on Nolan Arenado’s RBI triple when the game was called after a wait of 3 hours, 37 minutes.
The teams will play the makeup on Monday.
Taillon was the second overall pick in the 2010 draft and was on a meteoric path through the Pirates’ minor league system before Tommy John surgery and a hernia injury derailed his 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Back on the mound, the 24-year-old Taillon is turning heads, posting a 1.82 ERA with 51 strikeouts and five walks in his first eight starts. Huntington credited the hard work that Taillon put in off the field during his rehab for his fast start.
“This young man took advantage of those two years,” Huntington said. “He bristles when someone mentions that he lost those two years. He didn’t lose two years; he just wasn’t pitching for a year and a half.”
With Taillon making big strides, the continued struggles of Pirates’ starters in the majors has become more of a hot-button topic. Gerrit Cole is the team’s only starter with an ERA below 4.00.
Adding a Taillon to the rotation could help the team elsewhere, too. Nicasio, who was originally slated for the a relief role before winning a starting job in spring training, could return to the bullpen, which currently sits 13th in the National League with a 4.33 ERA.
Still, Huntington isn’t rushing his top prospect.
“We’d love to give our guys more experience in Triple-A than we have in the past,” he said. “I think the results — when we’re able to give guys a significant amount of experience in Triple-A — show. They make an easier transition. They tend to be able to adjust quicker at the major league level.”
Chad Bettis retired the Pirates in order in the bottom half before the game was halted.
The Pirates are scheduled to play at Colorado on June 9. That game was rescheduled from an earlier postponement.
RUNNELLS FILLS IN
With manager Walt Weiss back in Colorado for his son’s high graduation, bench coach Tom Runnells ran the Rockies. Runnells has previous major league managerial experience, as he skippered the Montreal Expos in 1991 and 1992. In fact, Sunday’s fill-in appearance came exactly 24 years from his last day in charge of the Expos.
While it may have been a special day to some, for the 61-year-old Runnells, it was just another day at the ballpark.
“I manage the game every night, so nothing changes really,” he said. “I just don’t have the head guy sitting next to me. It’s no different. We all act as a team. There’s information being given from everybody. The only difference is that my buddy’s not here today to make the final decisions, so I’ll rely on myself. It’s fun, but it’s just another day.”
Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang was held out of the starting lineup after injuring his left hand while sliding into home plate in the fourth inning of the Rockies’ 5-1 win on Saturday.
Rockies: Jordan Lyles (1-1, 7.64 ERA) will make his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque. His last major league start was April 24 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he gave up seven runs and couldn’t get out of the third inning.
Pirates: Ryan Vogelsong (1-1, 4.12 ERA) will make a spot start in Monday’s makeup game. He has one start in his 11 appearances this season, when he went five innings without a decision against the Detroit Tigers on April 13.