We’ve made it. The beginning of another season is upon us. The Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 Opening Day roster is set. Derek Shelton and staff will bring 14 pitchers and 12 position players to Cincinnati, Ohio Thursday to officially begin another year of Bucco baseball.
Only six players from last season’s debut roster remain entering the 2023 campaign. JT Brubaker marks the seventh holdover but will begin on the injured list. The first of 162 begins today.
2022 Opening Day roster
Starting Pitchers: Mitch Keller, Jose Quintana, Zach Thompson, JT Brubaker, Bryse Wilson
Relievers: Anthony Banda, David Bednar, Wil Crowe, Aaron Fletcher, Heath Hembree, Dillon Peters, Chris Stratton, Duane Underwood Jr., Miguel Yajure
Position players: Andrew Knapp, Roberto Perez, Diego Castillo, Michael Chavis, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Hoy Park, Kevin Newman, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Cole Tucker, Josh VanMeter, Daniel Vogelbach, Ben Gamel, Bryan Reynolds, Jake Marisnick
2023 Opening Day roster
Starting Pitchers: Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, Rich Hill, Vince Velasquez, Johan Oviedo
Relievers: David Bednar, Wil Crowe, Duane Underwood Jr., Colin Holderman, Chase De Jong, Jose Hernandez, Rob Zastryzny, Dauri Moreta
Position players: Austin Hedges, Jason Delay, Ji Hwan Bae, Rodolfo Castro, Ji-Man Choi, Oneil Cruz, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Carlos Santana, Connor Joe, Andrew McCutchen, Bryan Reynolds, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Jack Suwinski
Jason Delay and Rob Zastryzny were both added to the 40-man roster, Zastryzny making his first Opening Day spot of his career (dating back to 2016). The Bucs placed Jarlin Garcia (nerves in upper left arm) on the 60-day IL and designated Ryan Vilade for assignment. Brubaker (right elbow discomfort) and Robert Stephenson (right elbow inflammation) were both placed on the 15-day IL.
Brubaker suffered what Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette detailed as a significant injury that remains to be further evaluated but could sideline the 2022 Opening Day starter for a large portion of the season. Johan Oviedo stuck out seven, allowed two runs over five innings during his final Spring Training start, and appears next in line to fill the void left by Brubaker. Mitch Keller gets the starting nod to lead the rotation, turning his career around and looking to sustain consistent success.
The moment Mitch found out is everything. pic.twitter.com/oZJgThZjP2— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) March 15, 2023
Bryan Reynolds, Andrew McCutchen, Jack Suwinski, and Canaan Smith-Njigba make up an outfield primed to guide the offensive production. Improvements from Hayes over the offseason — adding muscle and driving the ball better — could help the Bucs’ corner infield positions provide increased offense. Ji Hwan Bae and Rodolfo Castro may split time at second base with no one running away with the job the past three weeks. Austin Hedges may just be keeping the seat warm for Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis to be ready but his defensive abilities can aid the development of Contreras and Oviedo.
Opening Day Lineups
DH Daniel Vogelbach SS Oneil Cruz
CF Bryan Reynolds LF Bryan Reynolds
3B Ke’Bryan Hayes DH Andrew McCutchen
1B Yoshi Tsutsugo 1B Carlos Santana
SS Kevin Newman RF Canaan Smith-Njigba
RF Cole Tucker 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes
LF Ben Gamel CF Jack Suwinski
C Roberto Perez 2B Ji Hwan Bae
2B Hoy Park C Austin Hedges
SP JT Brubaker SP Mitch Keller
The Pirates lineup is considerably improved from what began the 2022 season. Newman and Gamel were the only starters to stick with the team throughout the season. Vogelbach was traded to the Mets, Tucker a DFA casualty, Perez hurt for the entire season, Park bouncing between the majors and Triple-A, and Tsutsugo never found the same success he displayed at the end of 2021.
Cruz leading off as a significant power/speed candidate is a unique way to begin the starting nine. Smith-Njigba’s red-hot Spring Training helps slot him in the five-hole between Santana and Hayes. Hayes and Suwinski batting sixth and seventh is a tad surprising, especially with Hayes mashing four home runs in spring after only seven last season, but lengthens the lineup against right-hander Hunter Greene.
First pitch between the Reds and Pirates is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. Let another season of Bucco baseball officially begin!