Today’s game was meaningless. The Pirates won 4-2, but their standings wouldn’t have changed regardless of the winner. Since the game was meaningless, the Pirates went with a different lineup, giving some regulars the day off. The Reds took the same approach, so the Pirates didn’t necessarily have any advantage.
So what do you say about a meaningless game that has zero impact on the 2013 season, and didn’t feature many players who would be on the playoff roster? How about looking at some of the performers in that game, and looking ahead to their possible roles in 2014?
First up is Brandon Cumpton, who threw five shutout innings today, giving up a walk and two hits. This was Cumpton’s sixth game of the season, and his fifth start. It was the second start against the Reds, with the last one seeing him go five innings, giving up one run on five hits on the road in June. That also came against a much better lineup.
Cumpton finished the year with a 2.05 ERA in 30.2 innings, with a 22:5 K/BB ratio. His performance this year isn’t going to be enough to get a rotation spot next year out of Spring Training. However, he has proven himself to be a top depth option out of Triple-A, and possibly one of the first players who could be called up if the Pirates need a starter next year. In a weaker rotation, he’d be a sure bet to make the majors as a back of the rotation starter.
He’s in his final option year, and will have to be in the majors next year. Pimentel had success as a starter this year in the minors, but worked in relief in the majors. Today he threw two shutout innings. In his one month in the majors he had a 1.93 ERA in 9.1 innings, with a 9:2 K/BB ratio.
Pimentel probably won’t have a spot in the rotation next year, so he should move to the bullpen. He could serve in a Jeanmar Gomez role next year, moving to the rotation for depth or spot starts. He’s got number one stuff as a starter, although his lack of consistency projects him as more of a strong number four starter. As a reliever he profiles as a potential late inning reliever, but he can also serve as a multi-inning reliever if needed.
In his final at-bat, Jones hit a solo homer, going 1-for-4 on the day. The home run was the 100th in his time with the Pirates, giving him a clean average of 20 homers per season. It’s possible that could be his final regular season at-bat with the Pirates.
Jones has struggled this year, and will be due for a raise in arbitration over the off-season. That could put him at around $6 M, and he would also need a platoon partner, which would make the combo around $9 M total. Jones might not be bad if brought back under a much reduced deal as a bench player, but his age and his 2013 season make him too much of a risk as a starter next year.
He went 2-for-3 today, then was replaced by Andrew Lambo, who went 1-for-2. In the last few years Tabata has gone from signing a contract that looked extremely team friendly, to performing at a rate where that contract looked like a waste of money. And now?
Tabata finished the season with a .282/.342/.429 line in 341 plate appearances. He didn’t provide the best defense in right field, but overall he was a one win player. Next year Tabata’s salary goes up to $3 M. His .771 OPS this year isn’t great from right field, but it’s good as a fourth outfielder. In half a season he was a one WAR player, which gives him positive value under the next three seasons. I’m not sure that Tabata has earned a starter role, but he definitely looked good enough this year to return next season as a backup.