By Jason Shetler
As Spring Training is about to conclude this week, the Pirates bullpen is set for the most part with Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Arquimedes Caminero and Neftali Feliz. Whoever loses out on the fifth spot in the rotation between Ryan Vogelsong and Juan Nicasio will pitch long relief. Eric O’Flaherty was likely going to be on the team as a second lefty in the bullpen, but because of Cory Luebke having an opt-out clause in his contract, the Pirates traded O’Flaherty to the Atlanta Braves over the weekend, which was done in an effort so that Luebke won’t be able to use the opt-out.
While it hasn’t been made official yet, Jared Hughes could begin the season on the disabled list. Rob Scahill and Trey Haley appeared to be candidates to take the place of Hughes, but both were among the seven cuts the Pirates made on Tuesday. One of the better performers this Spring for the Bucs has been Kyle Lobstein. Given all these circumstances, the Pirates may very well have three lefties in their bullpen on the Opening Day roster with Watson, Luebke and Lobstein. With of course Watson being in the setup role, Luebke should be able to face both left-handed and right handed batters since he has above average offerings, such as a fastball that can reach the mid-90’s along with a mid-upper 80’s curveball. Lobstein has the versatility to either pitch multiple innings, or because of his groundball tendencies, brought in to strand inherited baserunners like Hughes. The idea of having both Luebke and Lobstein in the bullpen along with Watson would really provide some nice balance, at least until Hughes returns from injury.