Pittsburgh Pirates Mailbag: December 27, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 04: Kyle Crick #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on September 4, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 04: Kyle Crick #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on September 4, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

With Christmas now behind us, it is time for another edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ mailbag here at Rum Bunter

If the Pittsburgh Pirates use an opener in 2019 who could pitch in this role? Are they still pursuing Troy Tulowtizki? And more in this week’s mailbag.

As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions to this week’s mailbox. Now, let’s dive in!

If the Pirates elect to use an opener instead of adding a fifth starter then they’re likely to play match-ups. Keone Kela and Felipe Vazquez are their setup man/closer and would never be used as an opener, but anyone else would appear to be fair game.

Two logical options would be Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez. Crick held right-handed hitters to a .153 batting average and .214 slugging percentage last season, while Rodriguez held left-handed hitters to .153 and .207 clips.

If the Pirates are facing a lineup that is righty heavy at the top, using Crick as an opener while saving Rodriguez for the later innings would make sense. If they’re going against a lineup that is lefty heavy at the top, then you flip the two.

As for who could follow these two, there are a trio of pitchers that come to mind. The newly signed Jordan Lyles, Steven Brault, and Nick Kingham are all pitchers that should be able to give the Pirates 3-4 innings behind an opener before handing the ball back over to the bullpen. Lyles and Brault both did their best work out of the ‘pen last season, and Kingham was miserable in the first inning allowing 14 of 44 earned runs and four of 18 home runs in the first inning last season.

Also, if the Pirates go with an opener it becomes possible that both Brault and Kingham make the Opening Day roster due to a need for pitchers capable of covering multiple innings out of the bullpen. If they roll with a fifth starter, it would be a surprise to see both head north to Cincinnati on March 28th.

Will the Pittsburgh Pirates sign shortstop Troy Tulowitzki? That is a question that no one knows the answer to. That said, the Pirates should be viewed as one of the favorites to sign the former All-Star shortstop.

When Tulowitzki first reached the Majors in Colorado, his manager was Clint Hurdle. So, there is a connection there between the two players and Tulo is a player Hurdle thinks highly of. Additionally, the Pirates have a glaring need at shortstop presenting the veteran with an opportunity to play on a daily basis in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates were also one of the teams with scouts at Tulowitzki’s workout in California last week. If the Pirates did not have legitimate interest in Tulowitzki, they would not have sent representatives to his workout.


The designated hitter is good for baseball. It increases offense which will make the casual fan happier and, in turn, baseball more money, it also leads to a higher quality of play. Few things in baseball are as maddening as a pitcher that is cruising along getting pulled for a pinch hitter because his offense is doing nothing and the team is desperate for runs. Maybe the only thing more maddening than that is watching pitchers bat with runners in scoring position, especially with two outs.

As for how it could help the Bucs, it could be beneficial now and in the future. Let’s say Lonnie Chisenhall is healthy and producing when Gregory Polanco returns, you’re not forced to decide which bat to sit then. In the future, it could greatly benefit prospects such as Will Craig and Oneil Cruz who have raked at times in the minors, but are defensive liabilities regardless of the position they play.

The Pirates still need left-handed bullpen help, and there are a handful of free agents on the market that could help. Aaron Loup, Dan Jennings, Jeremy Blevins, Justin Wilson, and Xavier Cedeno are all names on the free agent market that could be realistic options. Hopefully, the Bucs will add another lefty reliever before Opening Day.

No, because pickled anything is disgusting. Nothing is as terrible as pickled eggs, though. Those things should be illegal.

Next. Examining The Role Inflation Plays In Baseball. dark

That will do it for this week. If you have a question for the mailbag at any point during the offseason look for our Tweet asking for questions each week. Do not ever be afraid to ask a question on Twitter, either.