The Pirates may use the concept of “piggybacking” to fill the fifth spot in their pitching rotation.
Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault will essentially share the job: One starts, the other comes in after three innings and pitches three innings. Kuhl is right-handed, Brault left-handed, so that flips the opposition lineup.
That’s called “piggybacking.” It used to be called, “These two guys both suck, so we’d better not leave either guy in too long.”
Not sure what happens if the starter gets shelled early during his three innings. But I am sure that will happen.
How would you like to be so marginal that you can get into the Pirates rotation, but not really?
Here’s what I’d do:
I’d start Kuhl on the mound. I’d start Brault in the outfield and bat him ninth.
Brault can hit a bit. His batting average last year was .333: 14-for-42 with a home run. Any professional baseball player can shag flies in the outfield.
Move Kuhl and Brault back and forth between pitcher and the outfield, batter by batter, taking advantage of lefty-righty matchups at least one time through the opposition lineup. (Would this conflict with the new three-batter minimum rule? Not sure. Are you a relief pitcher, per se, if you're already in the lineup?)
A team as bad as the Pirates should try different things out of desperation.
If you think the Pirates would look stupid by doing this, I’ve got a hunch they’re going to manage to look stupid without doing it.
Former Pirate pitcher Tim Wakefield had a 19-year MLB career. Throwing knuckleballs puts no stress on your arm.
When Wakefield was in his twilight a decade ago, the Pirates should have signed him and started him 60 times: Two pitchers for the price of one. That guy would be owner Bob Nutting's favorite player.
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