When the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Angels swapped pitchers Jason Grilli and Ernesto Frieri, both teams thought they could help each pitcher rebound from bad starts to the season. The Angels have had some success working with Grilli, but the Pirates have not been as lucky with Frieri. And with the team in an intense fight for the National League Central, they do not need a reclamation project in their bullpen.
While still with the Angels, Frieri led the American League in home runs surrendered. Since coming to the Pirates, it has not been any better. The team has seen Frieri surrender more home runs in the National League, and at some crucial times — the most important of which came in the ninth inning game of a in St. Louis where he gave up a walk off home run to the St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong.
Home runs have not been Frieri’s only problem. He is also just giving up extremely hard hits and walking many players. He has had multiple appearances when he has come in to walk several batters before either being removed or allowing those men to score. The last straw was when he entered a game against the Colorado Rockies on July 25 and surrendered five runs to in 2/3 of an inning, one of the runs was an inherited runner.
Frieri actually seemed to be turning things around prior to this game, as he had pitched six scoreless innings. His location was looking good and he was getting swings and misses on his slider. He was generating much more strikeouts and less walks during that stretch too. Unfortunately, that seems to have only been a fluke and the real Frieri is still not pitching very well.
With it being about a month since the Pirates acquired Frieri and him still not producing at a high level, it looks like the time to admit defeat and get Frieri gets off of the roster. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, he could be designated for assignment and sent to Triple A if he passes through waivers, he could be released outright, or he could be placed on the disabled list with an injury. No matter what route the Pirates decide to take, one of these options needs to be used, because they can’t afford to keep Frieri on the roster any longer.