Our 40 in 40 series, which take a look at each player on the 40 man roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates, continues today with a look at right-handed reliever Nick Burdi.
Burdi was selected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft and must stick with the team once healthy.
The former second-round pick is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss most of the season. He can be stashed on the DL without the risk of having to return him or keep him on the active roster all season.
The Pirates did cover themselves in the short-term by recently moving Burdi to the 60-Day DL, which they did to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Bryce Brentz.
Burdi has a power arm and found a home in the bullpen.
The 25-year-old impressed during his brief time with Double-A Chattanooga in 2017 before injuring himself, posting a 0.53 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 20:4 K:BB across 17 innings of relief.
That is something that would fit in nicely in the Pirates bullpen.
Expect the organization to take their time with Burdi though.
While reports suggest that he is recovering nicely, Burdi isn’t expected to resume mound work until after spring training.
All accounts suggest that Burdi could be ready to pitch in game action by the summer, which means the Pirates will have a decision to make with him.
Because of the injury, Burdi must be kept on the Pirates’ 25-man active roster for at least 90 days or be offered back to the Twins for half the $100,000 draft fee.
The Pirates could carry that period over into 2019, but that would require them to use a 40-man roster spot next offseason as well.
Say, Burdi begins a minor-league rehab assignment in July, then the Pirates could get 60 out of the required 90 days out of the way this season, assuming they aren’t in contention.
Then he would just have to stay on the 25-man roster the first month of the 2019 season. After that he would be Pirates property to keep on the roster or send down to the minors if necessary.
Could be a late-inning guy
However the tools are there that could make Burdi an excellent reliever.
A fastball that hits the high 90’s and a wipeout slider. What’s not to like?
His fastball has been a consistent high-90s heater that sometimes touches triple digits, and is paired with a hard breaking ball that explains some very good minor-league numbers: 80 games, 3.20 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, with 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Scouts love Burdi’s swing-and-miss stuff, but also worry about his delivery, which some relate directly to the Tommy John surgery.
If Burdi regains the same stuff he had prior to the injury, he has future closer or set-up man written all over him.
It will be hard to imagine the Pirates not being patient enough with him to find out.