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.