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Ask BD: Roster questions and the next callup

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

From cocktailsfor2

Who do you think

…is the next prospect to be *called up?

*includes injury fill-ins

My best guess is J.T. Brubaker. With Chris Archer and Joe Musgrove coming off surgery, and pitchers just being pitchers, there’s probably better than a 50/50 chance they’ll need somebody outside their anticipated rotation to make a start or two early in the season. Unless something changes, the candidates seem to be:

Nick Kingham
Clay Holmes
Mitch Keller

But Kingham and Holmes both pitched poorly over the last part of the season. It also looked, late in the year, like they might have been in the process of moving Holmes to relief. Keller just didn’t pitch well in AAA. Brubaker, though, finished the season strongly in AAA, pitching well in July and great in August; in his five August starts, he had a WHIP of 0.79 and ERA of 1.01. Things could change a lot in spring training, but as things stand now, Brubaker seems like the best choice for any early-season spot starts.

From battlingbucs

Give me

the % chance you see of each of the following happening

1. The Pirates Opening Day roster having three catchers on it
2. The Pirates Opening Day roster having 13 pitchers on it
3. Kevin Newman being the Opening Day starting shortstop
4. Pablo Reyes and Lonnie Chisenhall forming a RF platoon to begin the season
5. Steve Brault making the Opening Day roster
6. Michael Feliz making the Opening Day roster
7. The Pirates selecting someone in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft
8. The Pirates bringing in at least one more starting pitcher than they trade away* (this includes a depth option who starts the season at AAA)
9. The Pirates signing 2 or more additional (so beyond Kang and Chisenhall) free agents to a major league contract
10. The Pirates signing a free agent this offseason to a multi year deal

* Essentially I mean the chances they do something to help out their starting pitching depth. I didn’t want to include a scenario where Nova is dealt and a replacement is brought in.

  1. 20%. First off, there’s the non-zero chance of Francisco Cervelli being traded. Assuming he’s not, it’s still hard to see them carrying Cervelli, Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings. They’ll probably carry a glove-first shortstop — almost certainly Erik Gonzalez — as a hedge against Kevin Newman struggling. Carrying Stallings, too, would mean a weak bench. As much as they dislike letting assets getting away, Stallings just isn’t good enough to justify downgrading the bench.
  2. 60%. Clint Hurdle seems to jump on any excuse to carry an extra reliever. Early in the season, there’s always some issue with the pitching staff.
  3. 80%. Bringing in, say, Jose Iglesias necessarily means Newman will never be the team’s shortstop, especially not with Cole Tucker getting close. Rightly or wrongly, the Pirates don’t seem ready to write Newman off permanently.
  4. 40%. The Pirates will probably give Patrick Kivlehan a chance to win a job and I’ll be surprised if they don’t bring in somebody else on a minor league deal. But Reyes should have a good shot.
  5. 75%. They seemed to like having a L/R long-relief combo this year and next year, Kingham should take Tyler Glasnow’s spot. There isn’t currently another lefty long-relief candidate. The biggest obstacle to Brault’s chances probably would be them becoming determined to carry Nick Burdi and Michael Feliz.
  6. 20%. I just don’t think he’s very good and he has an option left.
  7. 50%. There isn’t much downside, other than the fee, to bringing a guy to camp and taking a look at him. I especially think they’ll try a lefty reliever if there’s one who might have a chance to contribute in 2019.
  8. 90%. It just wouldn’t be like Neal Huntington not to look for more starting depth and they don’t currently have enough.
  9. <10%. The most likely free agent would be a reliever, probably a left-hander. Still, I think they’re at least as likely to limit themselves to waiver claims and minor league free agents; the left-handers worth signing are going to have other interest and, with the Pirates, every contract has to be a bargain. It’s really hard to see them signing two relievers to major league contracts. That means a second free agent would have to be a position player. But with Kang and Chisenhall signed, the only possibility there would be a shortstop. It’s hard to see them spending the money in order to block Newman and probably also Tucker. And that’s even assuming they have enough money budgeted to sign anybody beyond maybe a reliever. I’m very skeptical that they do.
  10. 20%. It’d have to be a reliever and, after Daniel Hudson, they’re going to be reluctant to go this route.