Hurdle opts to fortify 'pen for Wild Card roster

Bucs manager goes with eight-man relief corps for game against Giants

Hurdle opts to fortify 'pen for Wild Card roster

PITTSBURGH -- Rookie pitchers John Holdzkom and left-hander Bobby LaFromboise were included on the Pirates' roster for Wednesday night's National League Wild Card Game, as announced by manager Clint Hurdle.

Holdzkom and LaFromboise, both September callups to the expanded roster, will be part of an eight-man bullpen behind starter Edinson Volquez.

With the unique one-time roster for this one game, starters Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano were both left off, although Jeff Locke and Vance Worley will also be in the bullpen for possible long-relief duty.

"What happens [if] there's a line drive hit off Volquez's shin third pitch of the game? I want a volume guy [available]," Hurdle said in his pregame media session. "I want a guy who has some pitches to take the ball."

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  Oct. 1   SF 8, PIT 0 video

The rest of the bullpen includes Jared Hughes, Mark Melancon and lefties Tony Watson and Justin Wilson. Omitted is Jeanmar Gomez, a season-long bullpen cog.

"We're being game-specific here," Hurdle said, explaining the inclusion of four southpaws among the eight available relievers. "[The Giants] are going to push six left‑handed hitters in this lineup and have all the rest of the right‑handed bench players. That's why Bobby's ... available. That's why Gomez isn't included."

As expected, Tony Sanchez is a third catcher on the roster in the event that starter Russell Martin (left hamstring) and top backup Chris Stewart (left wrist) experience complications from injuries that shorten their nights.

In addition to expected starters Gaby Sanchez, Neil Walker, Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison, infielders Clint Barmes, Ike Davis and Brent Morel are on the roster.

The speed of Chase d'Arnaud, used as an occasional pinch-runner in September, was trumped by Morel's versatility.

"Morel can play first. He can play third," Hurdle said. "To go into this game with only one extra infielder, Clint Barmes, we thought might be challenging."

Outfielders Gregory Polanco, Jose Tabata and Andrew Lambo will back up the starting trio of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Travis Snider.

The Pirates are able to carry all the extra position players because unlike the regular-season 25-man roster comprised of a dozen pitchers -- five starters and seven relievers -- the nine-man staff for the Wild Card Game frees up three extra spots.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.