Tuesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates cut eight players from MLB camp, while also updating the injury situation for one of their relievers
Tuesday afternoon, Pirate manager Derek Shelton announced that reliever Robert Stephenson will likely start the season on the injured list. Due to an elbow issue, Stephenson has made just one appearance in Grapefruit League play. That appearance came against the Phillies on Tuesday when he allowed a run on two hits, two walks, and a strikeout.
Stephenson starting the season on the IL does not come as a major surprise. This could be a bit of a blow for the Pirates. In a bullpen full of question marks, Stephenson could be valuable if he can replicate what he did with the Pirates late last season. After joining the team at the end of August, Stephenson posted a 3.38 ERA, 2.81 FIP, walked one batter, and struck out 18 in 13.1 innings pitched.
Stephenson beginning the season on the IL creates an opportunity for a reliever such as Dauri Moreta, who has pitched to the tune of a 1.17 ERA this spring, to head north to Cincinnati with the Pirates.
The Pirates also optioned a pair of right-handed pitchers to Triple-A on Tuesday. These two pitchers were reliever Yohan Ramirez and starter Luis Ortiz. After pitching well with the Pirates down the stretch last season there was an outside shot of him cracking the team's Opening Day roster out of the bullpen. However, after struggling mightily this spring any chance of that evaporated.
As for Ortiz, after turning heads last season including a strong showing with the Pirates in September, he entered the spring on the radar of many fans. Ortiz struggled in Grapefruit League play, but shined for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
The Pirates also re-assigned six players to the minor league camp. These six players were infielder Andres Alvarez, catcher Carter Bins, outfielder Chavez Young, and pitchers Daniel Zamora, Carmen Mlodzinski, and Cody Bolton.
There may have been a point when Zamora could have had a shot at cracking the team's due to their need for left-handed pitching. Mlodzinski was one of this group that turned heads in camp by flashing improved stuff throughout the spring.