Adam Wainwright was outstanding yet again last night, notching 12 strikeouts while pitching eight shutout innings. He allowed just five hits and a walk. All five hits were singles.
Wainwright is now 8-2 on the season with a 1.67 ERA and 77 strikeouts to 16 walks in 81 innings. He turns 33 in August and simply looks better than he ever has. Which is saying a lot given that he has been so fantastic for so long.
I was about to say that he was the clear favorite to be the NL Cy Young Award winner so far — and he may be — but to get there I took a gander at the NL pitching leaders and it’s hard to get one’s mind around how many great years dudes are having. Between Wainwright, Samardzija, Greinke, Cueto, Teheran, Tim Hudson, Wily Peralta and many more, it’s been almost silly. Wainwright may be the best pitcher among them so maybe he’s the favorite among them all to make his great first two months carry over for the rest of the season.
But I gotta be honest and say that, selfishly, I want to see Jeff Samardzija dominate and continue to get no run support so that he’s 0-14 but leads the NL in almost every pitching category so as to set up a final apocalyptic showdown between the folks that like pitcher wins and the folks who don’t. It would make Trout/Cabrera look like tiddlywinks.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.