With Opening Day, a week away, the Pittsburgh Pirates elected to trade Eric O’Flaherty to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for cash considerations. The story was broken by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and confirmed by the Pirates.
O’Flaherty is a left-handed relief pitcher who was in the conversation for a bullpen spot, though this trade translates into the fact that he would not have made the team.
In 10 Spring Training games, O’Flaherty was 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA. This included allowing 15 hits and three earned runs in 9.1 total innings of work.
The Braves are a team very familiar with O’Flaherty who pitched with them from 2009-13 but was trying to find his footing after having elbow reconstruction surgery three years ago.
There are now 42 players remaining in major league camp.
It is no secret that manager Clint Hurdle likes having two left-handed options in his bullpen and Tony Watson, barring injury, is a guarantee to be one of those arms.
The other will now come down to Kyle Lobstein or Cory Luebke unless Jeff Locke loses a rotation battle and becomes the long-relief option.
Though Lobstein does not have the velocity, he is a long relief type of pitcher, who previously pitched for the Detroit Tigers. He did not allow a run in 10 Grapefruit League innings, however surrendered two runs Saturday against the Minnesota Twins in his most recent inning of work.
Luebke is an interesting case and one in which patience would need to be preached. It has been a series of unfortunate events for Luebke as he has had two Tommy John surgeries and has had other issues which have set him back. In short, Luebke has not pitched in an official major league game since April 2012 as a member of the San Diego Padres.
It was another setback, a hamstring injury, which delayed Luebke’s start to Spring Training and he has allowed three runs in 4.2 innings of work. His fastball has been clocked in the low-to-mid 90’s which is the same as his Padres days.
Locke could end up being the odd man out in a starting pitcher battle between himself, Juan Nicasio and Ryan Vogelsong which if that is the case may mean those are the two lefties.
This is all of course assuming Jared Hughes recovers from his lat injury in time for Opening Day, or else another bullpen spot would at least temporarily be open.
The Pirates begin their regular season Apr. 3 at home against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Photo credit: Reinhold Matay / USA TODAY Sports