One thing I have repeatedly stated over the past couple years is that Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington and his staff deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to moves made or even not made.
At the minimum, Huntington has earned that much.
However not even I could make the case that throwing $5 million at starting pitcher Edinson Volquez was the right move.
This is the same Volquez that was awful the past six seasons with three different teams, but still got a $5 million deal in December to be the Pirates’ No. 5 starter.
This is the same Volquez that got lit up like a Christmas tree in spring training with a 9.64 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP in five games.
Yet, maybe Huntington got it right again.
Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle preached patience with Volquez while he was getting pounded during the spring, but judging by his first three starts – including Thursday night’s effort in which he earned his first win in a Pirates uniform by tossing seven strong innings – that patience just might pay off for the Bucs.
Volquez has been nothing short of surprising in a Pirates uniform so far, as he leads the team and ranks among the National League’s top 10 starters in ERA (1.71) and WHIP (0.95).
To be honest, no one would have predicted a solid start coming out of the gates for Volquez, but he has given the Pirates pitching staff a nice shot in the arm.
A guy noted for his control issues, Volquez is having great success getting ahead in the count. He has thrown first-pitch strikes 61 percent of the time so far this season, easily the best mark of his career.
Against the Brewers Thursday night, he threw first pitch strikes to 16 of the 28 batters he faced and 53 of his 77 pitches were in the strike zone.
Volquez has also been making quick work of batters, as he retired 20 Brewers hitters in three pitches or fewer. That is a recipe for success.
With that being said, its way too early to crown Volquez the ace of the Pirates staff as quite simply three outings is a small sample size. But the results are very encouraging.
At the end of the day though, Volquez could be just another example of why Pirates’ fans should put more faith in Huntington. More often than not, he makes the right moves.