Spring Training is under way and the first game is Saturday February 25th. The roster is looking mostly set but there is always the chance of a surprise performance or a late acquisition. Discuss any developments or whatever crosses your mind here.
Grapefruit League Schedule
Saturday, February 25 vs. Baltimore 1:05 PM
Sunday, February 26 @Baltimore 1:05 PM
Monday, February 27 @Toronto 1:07 PM
Tuesday, February 28 vs. Toronto 1:05 PM
Wednesday, March 1 @Minnesota 1:05 PM
Thursday, March 2 @Detroit 1:05 PM
Friday, March 3 vs. Baltimore 1:05 PM
Saturday, March 4 vs. Boston 1:05 PM
Sunday, March 5 @NY Yankees 1:05 PM
Monday, March 6 vs. NY Yankees 1:05 PM
Tuesday, March 7 vs. Atlanta 1:05 PM
Wednesday, March 8 vs. Dom Rep 1:05 PM
Thursday, March 9 @Tampa Bay 1:05 PM Friday, March 10 vs. Tampa Bay 1:05 PM
Saturday, March 11 @Baltimore 1:05 PM Sunday, March 12 vs. Minnesota 1:05 PM
Monday, March 13 @Atlanta 1:05 PM Wednesday, March 15 vs. Baltimore 1:05 PM
Thursday, March 16 @Boston 6:05 PM
Saturday, March 18 @Philadelphia 1:05 PM
Sunday, March 19 vs. Toronto 1:05 PM
Monday, March 20 @Tampa Bay 1:05 PM Tuesday, March 21 vs. Tampa Bay 1:05 PM
Thursday, March 23 @Boston 1:05 PM Friday, March 24 vs. Tampa Bay 1:05 PM
Saturday, March 25 vs. Detroit 1:05 PM
Sunday, March 26 @Philadelphia 1:05 PM
Monday, March 27 vs. Minnesota 6:05 PM
Tuesday, March 28 vs. Boston 6:05 PM
Wednesday, March 29 vs. Philadelphia 1:05 PM
Friday, March 31 @Toronto 7:07 PM
Saturday, April 1 @Toronto 1:07 PM
The games in bold are being broadcasted by ROOT sports
against RHP it is almost certain that McCutchen is going to hit 3rd and Mercer 8th. I also think its quite likely Marte and Kang taken up the 4th and 5th spots in some order. That leaves Cervelli, Harrison, Bell and Polanco for spots 1, 2, 6 and 7. Ideally due to his low OBP nature I'd like to see Harrison hit 7th though I'm not sure that is going to happen but lets slot him in there for now. Cervelli fits the top of the order profile as an OBP machine but I just can't see Hurdle hitting him at the top so lets slot him into 6th. Making calls on Polanco/Bell and Marte/Kang leaves us with
I'm not sure that is how I want to see it but that is my current prediction of what it will look like.
Disregarding trades for a minute it would appear Tony Watson, Daniel Hudson, Felipe Rivero, Antonio Bastardo, Juan Nicasio and Jared Hughes have six of the seven bullpen spots looked up. The leading candidates for the remaining spot are Wade LeBlanc, Tyler Webb and A.J. Schugel. Schugel has options remaining so even though 4 left handers in the bullpen looks a little weird you have to figure that is the likely path forward. Due to his contract LeBlanc may slip through waivers allowing the Pirates to keep him whereas Webb would need offered back to the Yankees. It is difficult to say which player will get the nod but for now I'm assuming the Pirates don't want Nicasio in the long relief role meaning they don't have one and of the two LeBlanc is better suited for that spot so he gets the edge right now.
Going away from conventional thinking for a minute what I'd like to see the Pirates do is find a taker for Antonio Bastardo and then sign Joe Blanton. At that point LeBlanc can be passed through waivers giving Webb the final spot. Watson and Hudson would serve as your traditional 8th and 9th inning guys and I'd like to see the trio of Rivero, Nicasio and Blanton take on a Andrew Miller-ish type role where they become 2 inning firemen. With three of them this could probably be sustained and as a bonus all three would be able to give you length if necessary. Hughes (who'd I'd rather not have but have accepted he'll be on the team) and Webb would serve as more traditional relievers here with Hughes being the groundball guy and Webb the one you call on for lefty matchups.
It appears Cole, Taillion, Nova and Kuhl are near locks for 4 of the 5 spots. The last spot likely comes down to Hutchison, Brault or Glasnow. If Glasnow shows he is ready for it then I think you kind of have to go with him. The upside there is just simply too great. In fact I'd probably give him a shot even if he looked just ok in Spring (which by the way his first 2 innings were off the charts great). A rotation with 3 high guys who could be top of the rotation arms (Cole, Taillion and Glasnow), a solid middle of the rotation vet (Nova) and a young pitcher with middle of the rotation upside who looked promising in his debut (Kuhl) is a very good rotation. Add in the quality depth of Hutchison, Brault, Williams, Kingham and Holmes and it is a group that could be a strength (for the record the loss of Bonilla bums me out I think he could have been a nice depth piece).