Similar to the team’s Opening Day line up, the bullpen looks different than it did in the original projections. This is due to closer Keone Kela being placed on the 10-day injured list, for an undisclosed reason.
While manager Derek Shelton will have to decide what to do with the hole at closer, he will also need to construct his bullpen. Assuming the bullpen consists of 10 pitchers, at least to start the season when teams can have a 30-man active roster, this is our prediction for what it will look like:
- Kyle Crick
- Nick Burdi
- Michael Feliz
- Richard Rodriguez
- Clay Holmes
- Chris Stratton
- Robbie Erlin
- JT Brubaker
- Dovydas Neverauskas
- Nik Turley
The first eight pitchers appear to be locks, or close to, for the Opening Day bullpen. It’s the final two spots, projected to go to Neverauskas and Turley, that remain up in the air.
Both Neverauskas and Turley are out of minor league options, unlike Geoff Hartlieb who is also in competition for a spot, which plays in their favor. As for Neverauskas, he pitched well in the Grapefruit Leagues (3.00 ERA, two walks, seven strikeouts in 6 innings of work) and he looked strong in Saturday night’s exhibition game.
To touch on Turley, he is a left-handed pitcher. Odds are, Shelton will want a second lefty in the bullpen in addition to Erlin. Especially since Erlin can also be used in a long relief role.