The Pittsburgh Pirates made one cut on Saturday morning, assigning right-handed pitcher Tyler Eppler to minor league camp. He will pitch for Indianapolis this season. The current active Spring Training roster is down to 48 with just 12 days to go until Opening Day.
Eppler pitched two innings in yesterday’s game and wasn’t competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster, so he can now go down to minor league camp and get in more innings. The 25-year-old Eppler started the spring opener back in February, but he pitched just nine innings total in six games. He has made 75 of his 83 minor league appearances as a starting pitcher, but with his limited work so far this spring, it appears that he could be slated for long relief. His role in the majors will likely be in middle relief at this point due to the lack of a true strikeout pitch.
Eppler wasn’t added to the 40-man roster this off-season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. His goal this season will be to avoid that same thing from happening and working out of the bullpen could help him reach the majors at some point this season. As a starter, he has sat 92-94 MPH, touching 96 with his fastball, and he throws a lot of strikes. He needs to command the strike zone better and work on his off-speed pitches before he becomes a viable depth option for the Pirates, as there will be better bullpen options in Indianapolis to begin the season.
With 23 extra players still in camp and just 12 days before the regular season begins, you can expect some more cuts soon.