It’s been somewhat of a surprise that the Pittsburgh Pirates have carried just a four-man bench now five weeks into the season.
That is likely to change in the next day or two.
The Bucs have three off days scheduled with the next seven days, so you can expect a roster move or two coming.
That also means Nick Kingham is the likely odd-man out.
The Pirates don’t need a fifth starter again until May 19 and with the way Chad Kuhl pitched on Sunday he will definitely get the ball on his next turn through the rotation.
That means Kingham goes down to Triple-A tomorrow and it is the right move. Pirates Prospects is also reporting that Kingham is indeed heading back to Triple-A.
In his first two MLB starts, Kingham went 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA and struck out 16 batters in 12.1 innings of work while walking just one.
Keeping Kingham on regular rest is important. There’s no point on keeping him on the roster and having him waiting almost two weeks to pitch again when he can get a regular turn or two through the rotation in Indianapolis.
Kingham goes down, who comes up?
It’s likely going to be Jose Osuna, who is tearing the cover off the ball in Indianapolis.
Osuna has a .359/.409/.628 line with three homers and 18 RBI this season in Triple-A.
The danger there is that Osuna is benefiting from every day at bats in Triple-A after not getting them last season. However his bat can help the big league club in some capacity.
Other than coming off the bench to pinch hit, there’s nowhere to play Osuna, except maybe a rare start in right field against a left-handed starter.
If Osuna is called up it would likely just be for a week or two and I really don’t like him not getting regular at bats in that span, but he can help the team win now even coming off the bench.
He also started in right field twice for Indianapolis last week so if Osuna does get a couple of starts, it will likely in in right field in place of Gregory Polanco, who is also showing signs of turning the corner.
The Pirates will use a DH in Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday so there’s an opportunity to get Osuna’s bat in the lineup.
If Osuna is the one re-called, it would be nice to see him get some opportunities, but so far the regulars that Clint Hurdle have run out there have been fine, especially at PNC Park where the Pirates offense ranks near the top of every offensive category.
It likely won’t be a long stay for Osuna, if he is indeed re-called, as Kingham or potentially Joe Musgrove will be back in the rotation by May 19, but it will be nice to see how much Osuna can help the team in a limited role.