The Pittsburgh Pirates will now be without the services of a left-handed relief pitcher for the first 80 games of the 2018 season
On November 5, the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed left-handed pitcher Nik Turley off waivers. This move came after the Minnesota Twins designated Turley for assignment earlier in the off-season.
The Pirates planned to give Nik Turley an opportunity to earn a spot in the team’s Opening Day bullpen as a left-handed reliever. However, any opportunity Turley had to win a spot on the Opening Day roster is now gone. The reason that opportunity is gone is that Turley has been suspended for 80 games by Major League Baseball.
Nik Turley’s suspension comes as a result of him violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Turley tested positive for Ipamorelin. Ipamorelin is a performance enhancing drug that is on Major League Baseball’s banned substance list.
The 80 game suspension that Turley must serve will start when the regular season begins on March 29. This means Turley will be eligible to return to the Major Leagues when the Pirates play the second game of a three game series at Citi Field against the Mets on June 26.
Due to the Pirates needed left-handed bullpen help, Turley’s odds of being on the Opening Day roster may have been better than anyone thinks or realizes. With this suspension, the chances of Jack Leathersich making the team increases. Also, it should just about guarantee Steven Brault a spot in the Opening Day bullpen.
After pitching the minor league systems of the New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Minnesota Twins, Nik Turley made his Major League debut with the Twins in 2017. He averaged 6.62 K/9, 4.08 BB/9, and allowed five home runs in 17 2/3 innings pitched in 2017. Turley owned an 11.21 ERA and a 7.06 FIP in his first taste of Major League action.
At Triple-A, however, Turley posted strong numbers in 67 2/3 innings pitched in 2017. He averaged 10.51 K/9, 2.93 BB/9, and he allowed four home runs while owning a 2.66 ERA and a 2.84 FIP.