Brault allowed three runs (two earned) in 2.2 innings Friday against Philadelphia. He struck out two batters without surrendering a walk.
The lefty is set to start 2018 as a left-handed arm out of the bullpen. It was thought that he might sneak into the rotation with Joe Musgrove (shoulder) questionable for the season's start, but manager Clint Hurdle said the team won't need a fifth starter until April 8 -- and he expects Musgrove to be healthy by then.
Although Brault is expected to start 2018 in the bullpen, a spot in the starting rotation hasn't been ruled out, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
It would likely take injuries for Brault, who threw a pair of scoreless innings Tuesday, to crack the rotation. "We did not tell him he's on the team," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We told him what the opportunity is: prepare to start and we'll see how it all plays out." The plan is for both Brault and Tyler Glasnow to open the season in the pen. If Joe Musgrove (shoulder) or any other starter starts out on the DL, however, then the team would likely look to one of the aforementioned pitchers to fill the void.
Brault's best chance to crack the Opening Day roster may be as a bullpen arm, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports.
As things stand now, the Pirates' rotation appears to be Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, Chad Kuhl, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove (shoulder). Due to this, there's been talk of a "bullpen apprenticeship" of sorts for Brault and right-hander Tyler Glasnow as a way to ease them into major-league action. The left-handed Brault has shown dominance over Triple-A hitters to the tune of a 1.94 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and an 8.2 K/9 last season, but his major-league numbers were much more tepid (4.67 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 6.0 K/9). His stock in redraft leagues would be relatively low if he is unable to crack the rotation, but there still seems to be hope for him to move into the rotation at some point if he finds success as a part of the relief corps.
Brault allowed four runs on six hits and four walks across two innings in a no-decision Sunday against the Nationals. He struck out four.
Brault was victimized for a three-run home run from Anthony Rendon in the first inning and saw another run tacked onto his ledger when he allowed the first four batters he faced in the third to reach. He labored up to 68 pitches during this short stint and was removed before retiring a single hitter in the frame. Brault was used in a variety of roles down the stretch, but he wasn't particularly consistent and finishes the season with a 4.86 ERA. That said, he will probably be given the opportunity to compete for a rotation spot in spring training.
Brault will start Sunday's game against the Nationals, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Brault will make his fourth and final start of the season Sunday. While the 25-year-old has pitched primarily out of the bullpen for the big club this season, he held his own in a trio of September starts, compiling a respectable 2.81 ERA and 1.06 WHIP across 16 innings. He'll look to close out his season on a high note and strengthen his case for a potential rotation spot in 2018.
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