The Pirates are moving left-hander Steven Brault to the bullpen, tweets Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic. For the time being, that means that righty Nick Kingham will remain in the rotation and get another start on Friday on the heels of yesterday’s historic debut, during which he took a perfect game into the seventh inning.
Manager Clint Hurdle told reporters, however, that there are no guarantees for Kingham beyond his second start. The club has a number of off-days on the horizon, and righty Joe Musgrove is expected to return later this month. Of course, Kingham already bought himself a second start after what looked to be a spot start Sunday, and it stands to reason that another strong performance could further force the Pirates’ hand. Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl will continue to hold down the top four spots in the Pittsburgh rotation, with either of Kingham or Musgrove now looking to be the leading candidates for the final spot.
[Related: Updated Pittsburgh Pirates depth chart]
Brault, meanwhile, will give the Pirates a much-needed lefty in a bullpen where closer Felipe Vazquez is the lone southpaw. Josh Smoker opened the season in the ’pen but has since been optioned to Triple-A, leaving Hurdle with a heavily right-handed relief corps.
Even if Kingham is in the Majors to stay, he’s spent enough time in the minor leagues this season to fall shy of a full year of MLB service time. He’ll be controlled through the 2024 season at the very least, though he’s currently on track to qualify as a Super Two player, meaning he’d be eligible for arbitration four times rather than the standard three.