Pirates Bullpen and Bench Almost Complete

After the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that Charlie Morton would start the year on the disabled list and Vance Worley would take his place, manager Clint Hurdle cleared up the bullpen and bench situation, although one roster spot is still unaccounted for.

Hurdle told the media after the game that the bullpen would consist of Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo, Arquimedes Caminero, Jared Hughes and Radhames Liz. He also announced that Andrew Lambo will make the team.

Assuming the Pirates go with a 12-man pitching staff, the likely last spot would then belong to Stolmy Pimentel. If they choose to go with an extra bench spot, Pedro Florimon could make the team. Both players are out of options, so whoever doesn’t make the team would need to go through waivers, or get traded. It is possible neither player makes the team as other teams around baseball will also be in the same situation with players out of options and one of those players could be a better fit for the Pirates.

The only other players that are still on the active roster are catcher Wilkin Castillo and pitcher Clayton Richard and both of them will be assigned to minor league camp by the 3pm deadline to set rosters tomorrow.

  • StevePegues
    April 5, 2015 1:09 pm

    Aside from the neat backstory and height, what is it about Holdzkom that has everyone convinced he’s such a great shake? I just don’t get it.

    Holdzkom pitched like 9 good MLB innings after a career of being pretty darn terrible. Face it people: you don’t end up in the independent leagues if you’re great pitcher. Let’s look at Pimentel’s career and guess what: he, too, pitched like 9 good MLB innings after a career of not being terrible. So what exactly is it that leads a lot of people to conclude that Holdzkom is such a better bet than Pimentel?

    I get it: people like Holdzkom’s story and want to believe that he’s turned it around and his struggles are a thing of the past. I want to believe that , too. But it’s incredibly inconsistent to believe that Holdzkom has for sure turned it around while there’s no chance that Pimentel could get get back to his form.

    • Relief pitchers are notorious for being up one year and down the next. Consider Melancon as an example. This Spring Holdskom’s stats were:
      BA = 0.172 WHIP = 1.00
      whereas Pimentel’s Spring stats were:
      BA = 0.268 WHIP = 1.45
      so today Holdzkom is the better pitcher. Who knows if that will be true in 2016, but who should really care? To a great extent relief pitchers are fungible assets. You go with the one who has the hot hand until he turns cold, then you replace him. The person to replace Holdzkom, if needed, will be someone from AAA. Unfortunately Pimentel is out of options so unless he clears waivers he won’t be one of those options. Nothing against him, I wish him well and hope he rediscovers his 2013 form. But holding a spot for him on the 2015 25 man roster hurts the Bucs’ ability to compete today.

      • Melancon has been fairly consistent since converting to heavy cutter usage.

        To answer Steve’s question, velocity and an lack of failure in a Pirates uniform.

  • William Wallace
    April 5, 2015 8:47 am

    Between first base last year and Alvarez they cost us the division. If Alvarez and Sanchez and even Lambo can’t figure it out by now let’s move on!

    • To what? I’m all for generating a discussion about certain positions, but complaining about a position without an idea to better it isnt helpful. Whats the alternative right now?

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY MITCH KELLER! A shout-out to the next breakout SP candidate in the system.

  • Interesting comments seeing how people feel about these last spots. In the past people used to joke about the 25th man, I’m glad that has changed. The 25th man is still 1/25 of the MLB roster and should be someone who can help win a game.
    With that in mind, I support the idea of Holdzkom on the team and releasing Pimentel. Even Stolmy’s outs were loud and at the track… he may have a future but it isn’t with this team IMO. If I had to make a second pick, I would keep Florimon on the roster. Not because we need him, but because he showed me a real nice glove, but also a pretty decent bat – at least this spring. He could have some value in a trade package to another team (Mets) or someone with injury issues.

  • They are likely trying to make a trade of some sort, involving Pimentel, Florimon, or some other piece. And don’t sell Florimon short – he can fly, and could be a valuable pinch-runner in the late innings. And he hit a couple of homers in the last week of ST – one of them was a real bomb, admittedly wind-aided.

    The guy I would like to see them trade is Rodriguez – with Lambo on the roster his ability to fill in at a corner OF spot is of limited importance, and he has plenty of value to other teams who need flexibility on the bench.

    But all will be clear by 3 PM tomorrow. I think this team has a whole lot of potential, and I seriously doubt that the identity of the 25th man will have any appreciable effect on the final record. Holdzkom will be on the shuttle from Indy, I hope he has a frequent flyer card. Any time Hughes pitches two days in a row, boom, he’s optioned and Holdzkom is back.

  • I’m a big Polanco fan but he looks clueless at the plate the last two days. Especially against Jeanmar Gomez (who looked straight nasty) and Buccanan . I saw him dive out of the way 3 times in 2 nights on balls that started inside and ran out over the plate. I like him in front of Cutch but I’m worried about him. It’s going to take him some time to get going and I hope Pirates fans aren’t to impatient and brutal to him

    • Polanco will be fine with 550 AB’s. It will not be a McCutchen like MVP caliber season, but he is not clueless either.
      His will likely be a typical rookie level campaign. I’m projecting about a .260 average with 15 dingers and a lot of ‘teachable moments’ as Hurdle might say. Sometimes you just have to play to know you can do it and that’s exactly what Gregory needs IMO.

  • William Wallace
    April 4, 2015 9:00 pm

    Forget the bullpen spot if Alvarez can’t hit 35 HR’s they will have trouble.This guy and Wonder Boy Tony Sanchez flat out stink. Bad defense no clue how to throw. Can’t wait till Chris Stewart get’s healthy and hoping Hart catches fire early.

    • I guess I’m the complete opposite. I’m rooting for Tony to put it all together. The throwing drives me crazy buy I love his bat and his drive. Pedro doesn’t need 35 hrs if he can bring up the obp and avg a bit. But I’d say he needs 25. The 6 spot and 1st base is the best place for him.

    • 1 bad throw and despite a great camp, everyone starts saying Sanchez stinks. Stupid

    • Luke sutton
      April 5, 2015 1:03 pm

      Sanchez did have a great ST on defense, including throwing. Fair to be skeptical still on how his throwing will do once games get more intense, but actively rooting against a player seems dumb for a fan.

  • Buy out Morton’s contract and let him retire

  • Thank goodness Morton pitched so terribly now we get the rotation we need to start the season. 3 years 21 million on Morton ………not well spent. Looks to me like Pimentel will be the last man. Wish Holdzkom was with the big club but Hughes has looked bad and Liz didn’t look very good at all yesterday . he was all over the place so Holdzkom may be needed soon… Richard will be there if Locke fails but barring injury Liriano,Cole,Burnett,and Worley should be in the rotation until the end

    • Monsoon Harvard
      April 4, 2015 10:23 pm

      It certainly seems to have been a lucky break that he was so awful today. In hindsight it’s the best thing that could have happened, so it was worth sacrificing the loss. These are the kinds of breaks a championship team needs, so I hope it’s just the beginning of blessed season.

    • 21 million overall, the general market rate for 1 WAR is about 6 million. Meaning over the course of the deal to consider it “even” you need between 3-4 WAR. He brought back 1.6 WAR last year, so he is nearly halfway to bringing back even value. Tough to see that deal not be at least even, unless of course you hate Morton and see him as unable to throw 1 WAR per season as he has done the last two.

  • Phil Mastroianni Mastrean
    April 4, 2015 6:27 pm

    Lambo Stinks why is he on this team, also J Hughes, everyone say Pirates are going in the right direction and I agree but when these guys make the team and makes me wonder. Another April like last year and we won’t get outta jail this year NL tougher

    • Who would you rather have made it? I feel lambo has done all he can do in AAA and its time to see if he can do it in the bigs. I can say I’d love to have holdzkom on the team but he’ll be up sooner or later. As important as putting the best team on the field its equally as important to have depth. When players start getting hurt its depth that will keep this team going in the right direction.

      • Phil Mastroianni Mastrean
        April 4, 2015 6:41 pm

        Gorky’s, Broxton (Old enough and Hits just as Good as Lambo) Lombardozzi, Bell,Willy G?? Lambo is not Depth and I agree Holdzkom in Hughes out

        • I feel Hernandez is a good AAA guy and don’t see him as much more. I think broxton and Garcia both aren’t ready for the bigs yet. Bell needs more development and I hope when he comes its as a starter and for good. I do like lombardozzi but I don’t believe he’s on the 40 man roster which is kind of nice. I’m not sure why but I just have always been a fan of lambo. I feel he hasn’t always gotten a fair shake.

          • Phil Mastroianni Mastrean
            April 4, 2015 6:56 pm

            All I can say is a lot of guys need to play everyday and Lambo hasn’t gotten that shot, Harrison did and look what happened. I worry about Kang not playing everyday like he was used too

        • Hughes had a 1.96 ERA last year, I think hes earned the benefit of the doubt. And Lambo has shown he can kill AAA pitching, he deserves a shot in the majors. Why not? Hes only gotten 69 at bats, we have no idea what we have in him

          • Phil Mastroianni Mastrean
            April 4, 2015 6:58 pm

            I hope your right and I’m wrong, Hughes did show his value last year and I hope I’m wrong again

          • Hughes had a great year last year, not very good in 2013, pretty good in 2012. He is not the type of pitcher that will have year to year consistency. The advanced stat folks will tell you he was extremely lucky last year, he is the poster child for an extreme ground ball pitcher. He relies heavily on his defense and luck to insure that all those ground balls don’t find holes if they do look out. Hhis unbelievably good luck stranding runners last year will probably not be repeatable. I like him starting innings clean rather than his role last year, that is where I feel Holdzkam could be a real asset, come in and just blow the ball by them. There is nothing better than a K with men in scoring position.

            • The reason Hughes had such a bad 2013 could be the fact that his walk rate was up 2 batters an inning. And there are examples of pitchers who consistently outperform their peripherals, and since Hughes pitches to contact on a good fielding team he is someone who likely will. Letting Holdzkom start the year in AAA with only 10 MLB innings in his career isn’t a bad idea

        • Get serious. You obviously haven’t been paying attention to this site, or others, when you make a comment like that one.

        • You can’t bring up Garcia and Bell yet. They are still developing and barely played any AAA ball. You want to start their clocks and sit them on the bench? We needed a left handed hitter off the bench

          • Phil Mastroianni Mastrean
            April 4, 2015 8:15 pm

            Lambo is Lefty but thus far not a hitter but hope he proves me wrong, wishful thinking with the youngsters

            • He has mashed AAA and his major league time has been incredibly sparse so what exactly are you using to claim he hasn’t been much of a hitter?

    • Ridiculous comments. Lambo and Hughes are going to play a pretty big role on this team and I believe they’ve done plenty to earn it and there are stats to back that claim up. Who would you suggest replace either that will be significantly better?
      I will give you the NL being tougher, however our division may be weaker so our chances are perhaps better as I see it. I think our team is better too in particularly our offense – and that was one of the best in the NL the last few years – so our chances of success are pretty good IMO. I also have felt that Taillion will play a big role in that success towards the end of the year, maybe Kingham too. We’ll see.

  • I just don’t understand why everyone is against Pimentel.

    Liz: 110.1 IP, 7.50 ERA, 6.26 FIP, 6.7 K/9, 6.2 BB/9
    Caminero: 19.2 IP, 5.49 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
    Pimentel: 42 IP, 4.50 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 10.1 K/9, 3.9 BB/9

    Those are the three pitchers career major league numbers. Pimentel has the best stats of the group and is also the youngest. What am I missing that makes the other two these attractive options and Pimentel someone who should be discarded. Pimentel had the highest K/9 rate of anybody who threw at least 10 innings for the Pirates last season.

    To me this appears to be nothing more than shiny new toy syndrome.

    • StevePegues
      April 4, 2015 6:41 pm

      Yep. It’s what have you done for me lately? Pimentel had a bad 2014 and a not very good spring training this year. Everyone forgets that he was pretty darn good in a small sample size in 2013 and that he has pretty darn good stuff.

      The team will be patient for a bit because of that, but we fans expect that every player the Pirates have is perfect all the time.

      • The fact that Pimentel is out of options puts him out of the picture. Wins and losses in April count as much as wins and losses in September. The Bucs need their best 25 man combination to win games now on the roster on opening day. That means Holdzkom in the pen.

        • Which is fine, but its not how they are going to run the team. They dont just make decisions based on now and this OD, but also with the future in mind and retaining good assets if possible. If they like Caminero and see him as capable of handling the 7th inning, they retain assets with Holdzkom in the pen and he still likely gets a ton of work over the entire year.

          • The way the Pirates run their team needs to adjust to their circumstances. When the cupboard was bare hoarding marginal potential assets was the right strategy. But this year legitimate baseball people think the Pirates can win the World Series. This year the Pirates strategy should focus on winning today. They have a solid core of players who will be with the team for several years, and a productive farm system that is highly regarded with respect to the rest of MLB. The marginal utility of retaining a fringe player like Pimentel is less than the present benefit of a “7 inning” reliever with closer potential like Holdzkom. Pimentel was once regarded as having closer potential, but command/control issues have taken the bloom off his rose. Time for the Pirates to move on. Hopefully they can trade him for some sort of return.

            • Luke sutton
              April 6, 2015 1:30 am

              you call Pimentel a fringe player, teams likely dont. A 25 year old with plus stuff that has had control issues doesnt amount to fringe. Problematic? Yeah, but still young enough to wish on and with positive overall stuff that teams wont just ignore it. I understand and agree Holdzkom is better, but its the difference between having both guys and letting one walk for nothing or trading him. If they trust what Caminero has done, the need for a 7th inning man is less and thus its a non issue. Holdz can start in AAA and end up with 50 innings in the bigs, while Caminero covers the 7th for the first month.

              You dont just throw away assets without a good reason, and when you do and it backfires fans go “why the hell did we trade Bryan Morris”?

    • Don’t forget the fact that Holdzkom only pitched 10 MLB innings last year, and only 27 in the minors. Since he has an option, making sure he wasn’t a one year wonder isn’t the worst decision.

    • Because Caminero has monster upside in the bullpen and he’s came to the best place he can for pitchers to get fixed and it looks like he has been. He’s a3 pitch pitcher that could be a closer if everything goes right down the road. He’s straight nasty. Liz has a lot of upside as well

      • They do have upside but so does Stolmy. He struck out more than a batter an inning last year. If that doesn’t show how good his stuff is I don’t know what does.

        • His stuff is average at best bb. Even his outs are crushed.

          • His stuff is great. Fastball that gets up to the upper 90’s from the bullpen, a nice slider, a change that was called the best in the red sox system in 2008 and 2010. You are crazy if you say his stuff is only average.

          • Good K guys are often poor contact managers. The exceptions, Kluber, Hernandez, Kershaw, are elite pitchers whose only peers are each other.

            For the vast majority of pitchers, you either whiff guys or you manage contact, and being good at one or the other can make you a good pitcher.

  • TurnerWardHitsTheWall
    April 4, 2015 5:50 pm

    Keep Floriman and let Stolmy go. Floriman can help a contender as a bench piece, and we can be short in the pen for a bit.

    • This team doesn’t need Floriman, he is a luxury, this team has 5 players who should hit 20+ HR’s and every starter should be in double digits, we don’t need to play small ball anymore. Our reserves are adequate to fill in for Mercer, who was a bit of an ironman last year anyway. Who we need is Holdzkam you don’t start the season a man down in the pen when games are played in old weather pushing your starters is not always the best thing.

      • Who? Alvarez and McCutchen will hit 20, besides them its just Walker, and before last year his career high was 16 so I’m not sure it was legit

        • Finished 6th in HRs in MLB last year. PIT doesnt have a ton of 30 HR bombers but the amount of spread out power makes the lineup legit with power. 6 guys are likely to hit 10 or more, and Polanco is likely to make that 7. When an offense can expect all but 1 player to hit over 10 HRs, its good power. Pedro with around 30 in a full year keeps us top 10.

          You could see Pedro, Cutch, Walker, Marte at around 20. Idk about 5 guys, but 3 is reasonable.

  • Forget Pimentel this team is a real contender if they act like one and make some tough decisions, like letting Pimentel go and putting Holdzkam back on the roster. Hughes is a pitcher who relies heavily on defense and some would say luck, and hasn’t looked much like the 2014 version but more like the 2013 version this spring. We need another shutdown reliever and Holdzkam looked much better than Hughes in the Spring as long as he only pitches one inning.

    • Agreed!

      I get the whole idea of not letting go of guys, when they are out of options and have some level of upside, but Pimentel is not deserving of that consideration a second year in a row. These kind of decisions cost us the division last year. Pimentel, other than his most recent couple of 1 inning appearances, has looked like he has always looked – a non MLB caliber pitcher who happens to throw hard. AAA is filled with guys like that. Losing him is no big loss, and if this team loses a game or two early because they keep him on the roster and stick him in a couple of close games and he blows it, they have only themselves to blame. I would have thought they would have learned that lesson last year.

      Its a joke that Holdzkom is not on this team – he is better than a couple of the guys still on the roster. If I had to choose between Florimon or Pimentel, I would say neither and call up Holdzkom. Given how our #4 and #5 starters look, we may need a lot of relievers.

    • Its less luck than you present with the way PIT forms it defense, because they shift based on statistical probabilities in order to generate a certain type of groundball. So while some of it is luck, as is many things in baseball, Hughes relying on his defense isnt really luck but the strategy they want. Keep it down, pitch to get the hitter to hit to certain spots. Relying on just his ST numbers really doesnt do it for me.