The Pittsburgh Pirates have sole possession of first place in the National League Central. It’s September. For all of you that were waiting for this team to pack it in and collapse for the third straight season, you can all officially jump on the bandwagon. A collapse is not happening, sorry. September isn’t only significant because it is the final full month of the season; rosters expand from a 25-man roster to potentially the entire 40-man roster. Teams don’t often promote 15 players to make the roster reach the 40-man limit, but the Pirates have said they will have 35-36 players on their September roster at some point.
On Sunday, the Pirates made their first few call-ups of the month. Outfielder Travis Snider, left-handed pitcher Kris Johnson and veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth were the first three call-ups. This leaves the roster at 28; if you do the math, that means we can expect seven or eight more call-ups before the Pirates are done.
Snider had been with the Pirates all year until he went on the disabled list with discomfort in his big toe. He started the season very well, hitting over .300 for a majority of the first month, but his season didn’t stay so great. In 265 plate appearances, Snider has a .219/.287/.322 line with a wRC+ of 69 (100 is average). He shouldn’t get much playing time. I can’t really see him as anything more than a sixth outfielder at this point.
Johnson will make his first MLB start on Sunday. He already appeared out of the bullpen, pitching six innings of a long extra inning game. In 135.2 innings at Triple-A, the 28 year old lefty was 10-4 with a 2.39 ERA. He has good control, but the low strikeout numbers seemingly fit the mold of the “crafty lefty”.
Farnsworth is old; that doesn’t mean he can’t be useful, however. He does still throw in the upper 90’s with his fastball. The Pirates won’t use him in games that are close, but he will be able to eat up some innings in mop-up duty to preserve the better bullpen options down the stretch. In 29.2 innings with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, Farnsworth had a 5.76 ERA.