With Jason Grilli's injury last night and Neil Walker's rehab stint over, it there was at least one roster move expected today. The Pirates made two moves today; Vic Black has been called up from Indianapolis to replace Grilli on the roster with the suddenly ubiquitous "forearm discomfort," and Brandon Inge has been designated for assignment
Black was the most logical replacement for Grilli. He was a compensatory first round pick by the Pirates in 2009 (49th overall) and he's blossomed as a reliever after an injury-filled start to his career. He battled control problems early in his career, but he's been fantastic as Indianapolis's closer this year. In 29 appearances, Black has thrown 35 innings. He's struck out 51, walked just 13, and only allowed one homer. His ERA is 2.31, and he's only given up 20 hits total in those 35 innings. Black's scouting report should sound awfully familiar: he throws a mid-90s fastball with a nasty slider that generates a ton of swings and misses.
We'll see how Black's stuff translates to the big leagues, but if his control holds I wouldn't be surprised to find him pitching in the eighth inning in front of Mark Melancon pretty quickly. Tony Watson is a decent reliever and Justin Wilson is a pretty good one, but I think that Wilson is more effective as a multiple inning guy and Watson is pretty unreliable. Both of them also need to be reserved for potential matchups against lefties. Black has the potential to be a lights-out kind of guy. Perhaps what we'll see is a more mixed approach in front of Melancon, with Wilson, Watson, and Black all getting used in the seventh and eighth innings as the situations call for it. I'd be OK with that while we wait to learn more about Grilli (all that's known for certain right now is that he's back in Pittsburgh for tests on his arm).
In any case, Black's performance with Indy and potential to be a really good big league reliever is the one reason not to freak out in the face of who-knows-what with Grilli's injury. There's a very solid chance that Black could be a legitimately good big league reliever right now, so this isn't a Chad Qualls situation. There's not a lot of time to make this judgment, but the Pirates can at least see what Black looks like in a few innings in a pennant race before the trade deadline next week. Beyond that, we'll have to wait and see.
As for Inge, I thought his time might've been just about up over the weekend when I heard Greg Brown and John Wehner mentioning his poor performance on Sunday's radio broadcast. I don't think there's a lot to say here; it was pretty easy to see how well-liked Inge was in the clubhouse even in his few months as a Pirate, but his performance never really merited a roster spot. At this point, keeping Josh Harrison on the team over him is a good baseball decision. That really says something. In any case, Inge took a ton of criticism in his time as a Pirate and I shoveled a bunch of it his way, but I certainly don't bear the guy any ill-will. As a fan, I always think it's a little hard to see a guy's career slowly unravel in front of him, even though I'm not always great at remembering that it's much worse for Brandon Inge when he goes .181/.204/.238 than it is for me to watch him.