The Pirates are loading up the Wild Card roster with position players. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Wild Card Playoff Roster Will Have a Lot of Position Players

Clint Hurdle met with the media this afternoon, and gave a few indications of how the playoff roster for the Wild Card round would look. The Wild Card round is only one game, but it counts as a separate round as far as the rosters go. That means you can load up on position players and/or bullpen options in the Wild Card round, then go back to a regular roster in the Division Series.

The Pirates will definitely be loading up on the position players. Hurdle said that the pitching staff will have nine pitchers, meaning there will be 16 position players on the roster.

The first two pitchers on the roster are Francisco Liriano, who will be starting tomorrow, and Gerrit Cole, who it seems will only be used if the game goes to extra innings, or if Liriano goes down early.

“Cole’s opportunity would only come if Frankie for some reason has an unforeseeable short start,” Hurdle said. “Or the game gets into depths, multiple innings late.”

After that, Hurdle said that the Pirates will be going with “the same seven coming from the bullpen that have been with us all year”. Those seven relievers project to be:

Jason Grilli

Mark Melancon

Tony Watson

Justin Wilson

Vin Mazzaro

Jeanmar Gomez

Bryan Morris

The Pirates are loading up the Wild Card roster with position players. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates are loading up the Wild Card roster with position players. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

On the position player side, Hurdle said that the Pirates will carry three catchers. Since there are only three catchers on the roster, that makes it easy to guess who those guys will be.

Russell Martin

Tony Sanchez

John Buck

That leaves 13 spots for position players. Here are the regular starters who seem to be a lock for the roster:

Justin Morneau

Neil Walker

Jordy Mercer

Pedro Alvarez

Starling Marte

Andrew McCutchen

Marlon Byrd

After that you’ve got six players on the bench, and that’s where the Pirates will have plenty of flexibility.

“We’ve got more men on the bench than we’ve ever had during the season, because of the adjustments you can make to the roster,” Hurdle said. “We’re carrying extra infielders, we’re carrying extra outfielders. We have multiple pinch-hitting options, we have multiple base runners to use, defensive options. We have different ways to play it from that angle.”

We can guess that some of the regular guys will be on the roster:

Garrett Jones

Gaby Sanchez

Clint Barmes

Josh Harrison

Jose Tabata

That last spot could be flexible. The Pirates could go with Felix Pie if they want a speed option. They could go with Andrew Lambo if they want another lefty power bat off the bench. Travis Snider could also fit that category. All three would provide the Pirates with an extra outfielder.

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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, 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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Clint Hurdle On the Cincinnati Reds and the Wild Card Game

  • Faye Zbuksukcz

    Interesting dilemma for Hurdle as only Byrd really hits Cueto well, but both Jones and Gaby are respectable against him – but you can’t play all three. And do you bench Morneau?

  • smurph

    I would give Jones a shot at 1B, but I’m not the manager. I would not have Snider in there, so it would be Pie for defense and base-running or Lambo for pinch-hitting. With the 16 position players, you definitely start Mercer with the plan to use Barmes if you have the lead late. Cueto has been and will be a handfull for the Pirates. Even though he has been sharp since coming off the DL, there is always a chance he may have trouble being precise in locating his pitches. He is also not likely to go over 100 pitches, as he might not have built up his endurance. Therefore you take a few pitches early in the game to gauge his control and his endurance.

  • Stephen Brooks

    I just get the feeling the 25th man is Pie. This is the ultimate “play for one run” kind of game – it’s at home, the bullpen is sharp, and the Bucs have plenty of positional depth on the bench, Bucs have allowed the fewest dingers in the league, keeping the score tight – and in that scenario, the tried and true strategy is pinch run for a slower guy, have him steal second and score on the bleeder through the 3.5 hole.

    Of course, Pie hasn’t exactly been the ideal base stealer in his short Pirate career (1 for 3), so there’s that…

  • CalipariFan506

    I think the key to hitting Cueto is to change the approach both is weekend the Pirates jumped on a lot of first pitches with success. The Reds game plan since the August series at GAB in 2012 has been simple. Throw a get me over first pitch fastball to get ahead in the count. Cueto kills us with first pitch strikes. Try to jump on him to get him out of his rhythm.

  • CalipariFan506

    Also for anybody else going to the game, make a concerted effort to unleash all of your pent up fury on that punk Ryan Ludwick. He came here and totally mailed it in during 2011. I want that guy literally booed out of the stadium, when he comes up to bat. I don’t think any player in our 20 years of losing was as pathetic as him as far as effort goes and then went right back to being a productive player when he left.

    • tom2125

      That distinction goes to Derek Bell aka operation shutdown. Lol. If I’m booing someone in particular, it will be Phillips

      • CalipariFan506

        Bell at least retired. Ludwick went to the Reds and hit 30HR the next season.

        • tom2125

          True. Ludwick did have 16 of his 26 at GABP. Plus he was sandwiched in a good lineup. I just don’t think he’s that good of a player. He had one nice year for the cards years ago and looks like he only produces in an above average lineup. I hope he plays tonight, because his defense will be appreciated in left field.

    • smurph

      Uh. Raul Mondesi and Derek Bell.

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