Pittsburgh Pirates Announce Four Additions To Opening Day Roster & Other Notes
By Marty Leap
The Pittsburgh Pirates are closing in on a finalized Opening Day roster
The Pittsburgh Pirates are now less than 48 hours away from stating the 2019 regular season. However, before the team gets to Cincinnati for a three-game series against the Reds beginning on Thursday, they must finalize their 25-man roster.
On Tuesday, the team announced that utility men Pablo Reyes and Kevin Newman have both made the Opening Day roster. The same goes for relievers Nick Burdi and Nick Kingham. These moves do not finalize their Opening Day 25-man roster, though.
The team will be taking 27 players with them to Cincinnati. This is because it is unknown if outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall or pitcher Jordan Lyles will be ready for Opening Day. Due to this, outfielder JB Shuck and pitcher Steven Brault will travel with the squad to the Queen City.
Chisenhall was hit in the right hand with a pitch on Monday night in Houston. He was immediately removed from the game and replaced by Melky Cabrera. He is currently day-to-day, but may need an injury list stint to begin the season.
If the oft injured Chisenhall starts the season on the IL, Shuck, who had an excellent spring (.372/.413/.558 slash line) after signing as a minor league free agent, would make the team. He’d likely back up Cabrera and Reyes in right field until Chisenhall, or potentially Gregory Polanco depending on the severity of Chisenhall’s injury, returns.
As for Lyles, the issue is he has yet to hit the 6 inning, 100 pitch threshold the Pirates like to see all of their starters reach before the end of Spring Training. In his final start of the spring, he threw 75 pitches in 5 innings of work. Lyles spring schedule was thrown out of wack due to cramping issues causing him to exit his penultimate spring outing after just 2 innings.
While the Pirates would love to get Lyles one more start in the minors before his regular season begins, he can not be optioned to the minor leagues without being exposed on the waiver wire. Due to this, if they determine Lyles is not ready by Thursday’s noon deadline to finalize rosters, odds are, he will start the year on the injured list.
If this happens, look for Brault to pitch out of the bullpen for the Pirates. With the way their April schedule sets up they will not need their fifth starting pitcher until April 7th. Lyles can be back from the injured list by then, allowing the team to start the season with eight relievers.
In addition to deciding what to do with Brault, Chisenhall, Lyles, and Shuck, the Pirates also need to clear 40-man roster spots for Cabrera and Francisco Liriano. One of these spots will be opened up when Edgar Santana is moved to the 60-day injured list. Polanco, Elias Diaz, and most likely Jose Osuna will also be put on the 15-day injured list before first pitch on Thursday.