Most of the Pittsburgh Pirates have appeared in fine form this spring, led by defending National League MVP Andrew McCutchen and a large majority of the pitching staff.
Still, it’s tough to ignore how poorly right-handed starter Edinson Volquez has performed. In four Grapefruit League appearances, the 30-year-old has allowed 19 baserunners and 13 runs in nine innings.
To put it mildly, those aren’t the numbers you’d like to see from the Pirates’ biggest free-agent signing of a quiet offseason. But it’s still March, when process and technique are prioritized over results.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington reiterated that approach Sunday, when he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Travis Sawchik that Volquez is all but assured of coming north with the team in two weeks:
“Barring injury, we see Edinson in our rotation to start the season. We believe in the stuff. We believe we can help him make adjustments,” Huntington said. “I’m not going to say he’s a lock, but as we came into spring training, we anticipated he would be in our Opening Day rotation.”
Perhaps Pittsburgh can afford having a “project” more than most MLB teams, which is a nice position to be in. 2013 all-star lefty Jeff Locke also lurks as a possibility if Volquez can’t get it together, as does nearly-primed prospect Jameson Taillon.
Barring any unforeseen developments, Volquez is going to get the opportunity to further refine his revamped delivery and approach. The Pirates believe in the teaching abilities of pitching gurus Ray Searage and Jim Benedict, and for good reason.
But while Volquez doesn’t have to match Liriano’s career revival to earn his $5 million paycheck, he won’t be able to cruise on potential for very long once the season begins.