Pittsburgh Pirates place former Greensboro Grasshopper and current Bucs electric rookie on the 15-Day injured list

Pirates place electric rookie on 15-day injured list
from MLB Trade Rumors, with Nick Deeds, and from www.yardbarker.com/YardBarker.com

The Pirates announced that they’ve placed right-hander Jared Jones(Greensboro Grasshoppers/2022) on the 15-day IL with a right lat strain. Jones was pulled from his start against the Cardinals Wednesday after just 78 pitches in five innings of one-run ball, and manager Derek Shelton told reporters, including Noah Hiles of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that the quick hook was due to the issue.

“He’s got a little right lat strain going on,” Shelton said. “So we decided to get him out.”

Pittsburgh has long been candid about its plans to carefully manage the workload of their young pitching this season, a group that includes rookie fireballers Jones and Paul Skenes. The young duo has been a revelation at the top of the Pirates rotation, as Jones has pitched to an excellent 3.56 ERA with a 26.4% strikeout rate in sixteen starts, while Skenes has struck out 34.1% of opponents with a 2.06 ERA across nine starts.

That process of managing workload has already begun for Jones, as the righty’s last appearance prior to Wednesday’s game was back on June 22. Given the fact that the club was already carefully managing Jones’s workload, it’s hardly a surprise that it would be cautious and sit the righty down rather than have him pitch through a lat problem, even if it proves to be as minor as both Shelton and Jones himself have indicated that it’s expected to be.

A specific timetable for Jones’s return has not yet been discussed publicly, although the Pirates will need to sort out a replacement for the righty in the rotation regardless of his IL stint’s length. The club has called up outfielder Joshua Palacios to lengthen its bench mix for the time being, but will need to figure out who will take the ball in Jones’s stead before then. Right-hander Braxton Ashcraft, the club’s #5 prospect per MLB.com, is already on the 40-man roster and has dominated the Double- and Triple-A levels for Pittsburgh this year with a 3.00 ERA and 25.9% strikeout rate in 69 innings. But he has made just three starts at the Triple-A level to this point.

If the Pirates want to take things slowly with Ashcraft, they could turn to a non-roster arm such as Jake Woodford, who pitched in the majors for the White Sox earlier this year and has looked good with a 2.08 ERA in three starts at Triple-A since he joined the organization in June. Turning to Woodford (or other non-roster veterans currently in Triple-A such as Domingo German or Luis Cessa) would require the team to clear space on the 40-man roster, however.

Whoever the Pirates turn to in replacing Jones will be thrust into the club’s most competitive season in years. Pittsburgh has a decent 41-44 record that places them just three games out of the final NL playoff spot, and that respectable performance has led ownership to suggest that the front office will be aggressive in improving the club this summer. Much of that success has been thanks to the rotation, where Jones and Skenes have combined with Mitch Keller, Bailey Falter and Martin Perez to deliver a combined ERA of 3.63 that ranks sixth among starting staffs.

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