Wednesday, right-hander Virgil Vasquez was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis after losing the competition for the fifth starter's job. Relievers Jason Davis and Denny Bautista, who both can be used in multi-inning stints, were among seven players reassigned to minor league camp.
"We talked long about what's the best makeup for our bullpen," general manager Huntington said. "Do we put (Vasquez) in the bullpen, giving us a length option? Or do we build the bullpen so we have an optionable piece or two in it, then if we have a need for length we can pull a guy from Triple-A?"
"Optionable" is a cool word.
Anyway, the Bucs sent Vasquez to AAA, but he'll be back. Not only is he likely to be the first pitcher called when the Pirates need a starter, but he can work multiple innings out of the bullpen. The Bucs already have two pitchers in their bullpen in Craig Hansen and Donnie Veal about whom the phrase "question mark" probably isn't sufficiently strong to describe how unreliable they are. (If I were the GM, I would have kept Hansen, but I would've shipped Veal back to the Cubs for fear of another Evan Meek-iopening-2008 situation. One Hansen is plenty.)
The Bucs also have two confirmed mediocrities in Sean Burnett and Tyler Yates and a spot that hasn't even been filled yet. Sure, the rotation is shaky, but the bullpen is even worse, and unless Hansen or Veal turn things around in short order, they'll be hurting for innings. Personally, I'd like to see Dan McCutchen get some of those, but he doesn't appear to be in the Pirates' immediate plans.
So, speaking of props, what's the line on the number of innings Vasquez pitches for Pittsburgh this year? 80, maybe?