Kris Johnson
Kris Johnson will start today against the Cardinals. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have called up three players today with rosters expanding beyond 25-men. Kris Johnson has been recalled from Indianapolis, and will make the start in today’s game against the Cardinals. Travis Snider was activated from his rehab assignment. The Pirates also purchased the contract of relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth.

The Pirates had an open spot on the 40-man roster, so they don’t need to make a corresponding move for Farnsworth. He’s the only surprise out of the three players who were called up. He gave up three runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings in his brief time with Indianapolis, along with a 3:4 K/BB ratio. Farnsworth spent time in the majors this year with the Rays, putting up a 5.76 ERA in 29.2 innings, with a 19:7 K/BB ratio. He doesn’t seem to be the dominant reliever he was two years ago. The Pirates have been successful with most relief pitching additions, but not every one of them. This reminds me of the Chad Qualls addition last year, where they’re hoping to get a bit more out of a veteran reliever who used to have good numbers. Of course, Qualls went on to post those good numbers this year in Miami, complete with one of the best baseball GIFs of the year.

Snider isn’t a surprise, as it seemed the Pirates were holding him back in his rehab until the calendar turned to September. He was dealing with a toe injury all year, and we’ll see how much that affected his numbers. He had a .799 OPS in April, but his numbers went on a steady decline after that. He’ll mostly be a bench bat after the additions of Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau.

Johnson is the most interesting of the group. He’ll get the start today, but also gives the Pirates a third left-hander out of the bullpen in the month of September. Johnson had a 2.39 ERA in 135.2 innings with Indianapolis this year, and threw six innings in relief in his major league debut, giving up two runs in the sixth inning of work. He has a good matchup today, as the Cardinals struggle against left-handed pitching.

The active roster is now at 28. The Pirates can expand up to 40, but will probably go to 35-36 players. They will get a big group of players on Tuesday when Altoona’s season ends and Jeff Locke, Tony Sanchez, Jared Hughes, and Andrew Lambo are eligible to return.

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