The Pirates have shut left-hander Steven Brault down due to a strained muscle in his left shoulder, the team announced this morning. He’ll be reevaluated in two weeks’ time.
Brault, 27, pitched a career-high 113 1/3 innings at the Major League level in 2019 but struggled to a career-worst 5.16 ERA in that time. He averaged 8.0 strikeouts, 4.2 walks and 1.19 homers per nine innings pitched along the way.
Additional details on the injury weren’t provided, but it obviously casts doubt upon Brault’s readiness to begin the season. He’s worked both as a starter and as a reliever in the Majors and seemed likely to slot into the 2020 rotation prior to this morning’s announcement. The Bucs are thin on starting pitching options on the 40-man roster following injuries to Jameson Taillon (2019 Tommy John surgery), Chad Kuhl (2018 Tommy John surgery) and Clay Holmes (broken foot).
An absence for Brault could further open the door for non-roster southpaw Derek Holland to make the Opening Day rotation alongside Chris Archer, Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams and Mitch Keller. The Pirates could also look to the handful of remaining free agents or pursue some alternative depth options later in camp as veterans opt out of minor league deals and as other players are exposed to waivers.