Pittsburgh Pirates: Club Announces Final Roster Decisions
With opening day being today, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made their decision on their two final roster spots, as multiple players will begin the season on the injured list.
At the on set of the offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Lonnie Chisenhall to serve as the stop gap in right field until Gregory Polanco would return from injury. The former Indians outfielder and one of few additions to the 2019 Pirates is projected by PECOTA to hit .275/.338/.451 and produce 1.2 WARP in 304 plate appearances, solid production for a veteran backup. However, injuries have long plagued his career, and this year is no different outside this was more of an unlucky injury compared to a muscular one like his calf last season. After getting hit in the hand, Chisenhall has a fractured index finger and will miss four-to-six weeks.
Replacing Chisenhall on the roster is JB Shuck, who is most notable for this catch, but outside of that he is a career .244/.294/.316 hitter with -0.2 WARP in 433 games. The left-handed outfielder is a projected .214/.282/.300 hitter with -0.1 WARP in 2019. He won’t provide much value, and he has a career -7.3 fielding runs above average (FRAA), making the decision to not have Kevin Kramer up instead for the next month to month and a half more head scratching.
Elias Diaz will also start the year on the injured list, as he battled a virus for most of the spring. After being essentially a two-win catcher (1.9 WARP) last season, it seemed like Diaz and Cervelli could split time this year. He shouldn’t miss too much time, and he’s a projected .245/.293/.364 hitter.
Jordan Lyles will also start the season on the injured list, but this is most likely due to the Pirates wanting him to get to the 100 pitch mark before making his regular season debut as he battled some discomfort this spring. The club also doesn’t need a fifth starter for some time, so instead the Pirates will carry Steven Brault and Francisco Liriano as left-handed options out of the bullpen. Lyles projects at a 4.38 ERA and 0.2 WARP in 83.3 innings and Brault a 4.00 ERA and 0.2 WARP in 43.3 innings.
In addition, depth pieces Jose Osuna and Dovydas Neverauskas will start the season on the injured list, and since they are on the 40-man roster and the team is coming out of spring training, those two will be on the major league injured list. To clear spots on the 40-man, relief pitchers Aaron Sleggers and Jake Barrett were designated for assignment.
The lineup for the opening game is as followed:
- Adam Frazier, 2B
- Starling Marte, CF
- Corey Dickerson, LF
- Josh Bell, 1B
- Francisco Cervelli, C
- Jung Ho Kang, 3B
- Melky Cabrera, RF
- Erik Gonzalez, SS
- Jameson Taillon, P
Today marks opening day, and the Pirates have set their roster, but they’ll have more decisions to make to set up the roster for the bulk of the season in about a week.
*Numbers from baseball prospectus