Examining The Pittsburgh Pirates Bullpen Options For 2019
Two more veterans
Right-handed pitcher Brandon Maurer and lefty Tyler Lyons are two other veterans the Pittsburgh Pirates have brought in on minor league contracts this offseason. Both pitchers have been invited to Major League camp, and both will have an opportunity to earn a bullpen spot with the Bucs.
The 28-year-old Maurer is coming off a disastrous 2018 campaign with the Kansas City Royals. In 31 1/3 innings pitched Maurer owned a 15.6% walk rate, 7.76 ERA, and a 6.58 FIP. All of these were career worsts for Maurer.
Maurer’s struggles in 2018 came as a bit of a surprise. From 2014 – 2017 Maurer owned a 3.55 FIP, a 7.1% walk rate, 21.0% strikeout rate, and he allowed just 24 home runs in 249 2/3 relief innings pitched for the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, and the Royals. Barring a dominant spring for Maurer and/or injuries to other pitchers, odds are, Maurer will start the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. However, he could be an intriguing bullpen option later on in the season.
Lyons, like Maurer, struggled in 2018. His struggles, however, can be easily explained. Lyons saw a decrease in velocity in 2018 as a result of shoulder injury that limited him to just 16 2/3 innings with the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2017 Lyons was one of the Cardinals best relievers posting a 2.83 ERA, 2.86 FIP, and a 30.9% strikeout rate in 54 innings pitched. To be honest, it was a surprise when the Cardinals designated Lyons for assignment last July.
Lyons, like Maurer, may start the year at Triple-A. His contract also includes opt out dates that would allow him to elect free agency if he is not in the Major Leagues by the end of March or by June 1st. Even if Lyons starts the year in the minors, it is a safe bet that, unless he opts out of his contract, he will reach the MLB level by June 1st for the Bucs.