Pirates Discussing Roster Decisions

Bucs still have a handful extra in their bullpen

Jeff Hathhorn
March 26, 2018 - 8:28 am
Jose Osuna

93.7 the Fan

The Pirates have hours now to make decisions on their roster, barring picking up a waiver claim, the everyday players are set, but the bullpen has some questions.

If the Pirates go with 13 bench players, Jose Osuna will get the call and based on spring numbers, why not?  The 25-year-old Osuna leads the Bucs in Spring Training homers and RBI for the second straight year.  Osuna hit seven homers and drove in 30 in 215 at bats last year in the majors. 

However, the first baseman, corner outfielder and learning to play third base Osuna, hit just .197 as a pinch hitter in 2017.  After a fast start, Osuna was 7 for 52 in August and September and just two of those hits came in the last month of the season.  Would he be better playing third base every day in Triple A?

As for the bullpen, let’s assume they start with 12 pitchers.  The rotation is set, leaving seven spots to fill. 

Here are the bullpen locks-closer Felipe Rivero, set-up man George Kontos, righty Michael Feliz and long relievers Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow.  That leaves two and some interesting decisions.

Pitching coach Ray Searage said that there will be other people involved making the decisions, not just himself and manager Clint Hurdle.  That means the front office is involved.  A.J Schugel is hurt, so he’s out. 

Lefty Kevin Siegrist is a non-roster invitee (meaning they would have to clear a spot on the 40 man) and the most accomplished of those in the running.  The 28-year-old has pitched in 269 career games with a career 3.04 ERA and can get righties out.  Despite Siegrist saying he’s ready, Searage isn’t convinced.

“From what I’m seeing the command isn’t there and the arm strength comes and goes,” Searage said.

Josh Smoker is 29 and over from the Mets.  He’s a lefty and after a horrid start to 2017, gave up only 16 earned runs in his last 42.2 innings while striking out 57.  Smoker has given up earned runs in 2 of his 9 spring outings with 13 strikeouts.

“He’s showed us flashes of being a consistent left-handed reliever,” Searage said.  “There are a lot of deep counts he gets into.  We had a serious talk ‘you’ve got the weapons to get people out, but you’re behind in the count all the time and you’re treading water all the time'.  There’s something to work with there, there are weapons.”

The Rule 5 pick is Jordan Milbrath, GM Neal Huntington said the other day that the Indians would definitely take him back if he’s not on the Opening Day roster.  Milbrath has a unique arm angle which makes him intriguing.  But his spring numbers stink, 8 earned runs in 8.1 innings on 10 hits, a walk and 8 strikeouts.

Milbrath, 26, has also only pitched as high as Double A in his career and with Glasnow and Brault as long relievers, it’s doubtful you could hide Milbrath for non-leverage situations.  His case is helped tremendously by keeping 13 pitchers.

Righty Kyle Crick, when Searage mentions that others would be in the decision room, could he be alluding to the front office wanting to keep Crick on the roster because he came in the Andrew McCutchen trade.

Searage said Crick has potential, but his Grapefruit League numbers are bad.  Eleven innings, 13 hits, seven earned runs, four walks and nine strikeouts, along with allowing a .310 average and 1.55 WHIP.

Dovydas Neverauskas and Edgar Santana are internal options and don’t have much on the back of their playing cards.  A Clint Hurdle way of saying they don’t have much experience, a total of 43 innings between them.

“They know something has to give here,” Searage said of the relievers.  “They all worked so hard and you’d like to have a 40-man (pitching) roster, but that isn’t going to happen,”

13 or 12, the clock is ticking.