Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) throws against the New York Mets in the first inning of the baseball game on Sunday, June 29, 2014, in Pittsburgh. Photo: Keith Srakocic, AP
PITTSBURGH — The Pirates have become the place to go to resurrect pitching careers and, two days after acquiring Ernesto Frieri from the Angels, one of the more recent projects showed just how it’s done.
Last year, Francisco Liriano was the comeback star. This year, Frieri will have to stand in line behind Vance Worley and Edinson Volquez.
Volquez, who finished 9-12 with a 5.17 ERA last year with the Dodgers and Padres, pitched six masterful shutout innings Sunday to defeat the Mets 5-2. He evened his record at 6-6, tying Gerrit Cole for the team lead in wins, and lowered his ERA to 4.07.
But that number is misleading. If not for a disastrous eight runs in two and a third innings two starts ago, it would be 3.40. Since that blowup, Volquez has allowed just one earned run in 14 innings, striking out eight and recording two wins.
“It was fun to watch Edinson,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. “He continues to work hard and has bounced back.
“He got himself into trouble in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings but collected himself, slowed down and got out of it. He gave all he had and had a very solid body of work.”
Volquez was all smiles in the locker room, too, but it wasn’t because of his ability to work out of jams – the Mets stranded 11 runners, eight in Volquez’ six innings.
“It’s not fun pitching out of jams,” Volquez said. “I was able to throw the right pitch when I needed to and I was able to keep the ball down.
“I threw my breaking pitch for strikes and they only got singles and doubles. I was able to get of trouble. But I’m really happy we got the win.”
Volquez’ resurgence has also helped the Pirates bullpen. He is now second on the team in innings pitched and, outside of that one bad game in Cincinnati, has averaged over six innings per start.
“I’m watching video and making adjustments,” Volquez said. “I have a pretty high comfort level now.”
The Pirates’ other 2014 reclamation projects are giving fans a pretty high comfort level, too. Worley is 2-0 in three starts with a 1.74 ERA after going 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA with the Twins last year. Frieri pitched a scoreless inning in his only appearance so far.