Spots Opening Up In The Bullpen

Olson should make the Opening Day roster with Olsen and Beimel hurt.

At the start of the off-season, the bullpen looked pretty crowded.  The Pittsburgh Pirates had locks in Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop, and Jeff Karstens.  They added Joe Beimel and Jose Veras, and almost immediately proclaimed that each reliever would make the majors, despite their non-roster invitee status.  The final spot was seen as a battle between out-of-options relievers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio, and the loser of the Charlie Morton/Scott Olsen battle for the fifth starter spot.  After recent injuries in the last week, some spots could be opening for guys who previously didn’t have a chance in the majors.

Scott Olsen and Joe Beimel have both dealt with injuries this off-season.  Olsen will start on the disabled list, and Beimel won’t make the opening day roster due to his injuries.  Garrett Olson looks to take their place as the left hander in the bullpen.  As for the second left handed relief spot, that could go to Brian Burres, who is still in major league camp.

Jeff Karstens was projected to make the bullpen, but could move to the rotation if James McDonald isn’t healthy enough to start the season.  McDonald will make a rehab start on Saturday in Pirate City, but as I pointed out earlier this week, he might not have enough time to get fully stretched out.

The injuries to Beimel, Olsen, and McDonald potentially open up three bullpen spots. Garrett Olson is expected to win one of them.  The Pirates have Chris Leroux, Jose Ascanio, Michael Crotta, and Brian Burres battling it out for that final spot.  Burres seems like the most likely to be a lock out of that group, due to his left handed status.  If McDonald can’t start the season, Karstens would most likely move to the rotation, which would open a spot for either Leroux, Ascanio, and Crotta.  Crotta could be a surprise addition to the bullpen, as he has yet to allow a run this Spring.

The 25-man roster projection at this point is Olson and Burres making the bullpen, and Crotta getting the final spot if Karstens has to move to the rotation to replace McDonald.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    So if Beimel is not going to make the opening day roster will he exercise his opt out clause? Or have the Pirates reached some sort of agreement with him that he will be on the roster when healthy.

    I assumed he was going to be added to the 40 man roster and then put on the DL. This way he couldn’t opt out.

  • Anonymous

    One thing to add is that for someone like Crotta, who is already on the 40 man roster, if he makes the team for McDonald, he would probably be sent down just as the Indy season was getting started so it would sort of be like an extended major league spring training for him. McDonald will only pitch B games they said so his DL stint can be backdated to the 22nd which would make him eligible to come back the 6th, the day before Indy opens their season. From the sounds of things he may only miss out start which would put his first game as April 10th