PITTSBURGH -- Starter or reliever? Steven Brault won't be picky."Anywhere on the Major League staff," Brault said at PiratesFest when asked about his desired role. "When it comes down to it, winning is what matters. I want to do whatever's going to help our team win."At the Winter Meetings, general
PITTSBURGH -- Starter or reliever? Steven Brault won't be picky.
"Anywhere on the Major League staff," Brault said at PiratesFest when asked about his desired role. "When it comes down to it, winning is what matters. I want to do whatever's going to help our team win."
At the Winter Meetings, general manager Neal Huntington said the Pirates are planning to begin the season with the same five starters they used for most of 2017: Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, Chad Kuhl and Trevor Williams. If they stick to that plan, Brault and Tyler Glasnow will be relegated to Pittsburgh's bullpen or Triple-A Indianapolis.
The uncertainty doesn't bother Brault. He's training in San Diego this offseason as if he'll be a starter. But if manager Clint Hurdle says he's moving to the bullpen, Brault said he'll adjust accordingly.
"It's pretty simple for me. If they need me in the bullpen, I'll be happy to do that," Brault said. "Obviously I would prefer to be in the big leagues. However I can help my team win mucho ballgames would be good."
Huntington has also said the next step for Brault and Glasnow could be an old-school "apprenticeship" in the bullpen. The Bucs would have plenty of rotation depth remaining in Triple-A -- namely Nick Kingham, Clay Holmes and Tyler Eppler -- and top pitching prospect Mitch Keller could earn a promotion to Indianapolis at some point next season.
In that scenario, Brault and Glasnow would fill the same role Williams served last April: rotation depth in the big league bullpen.
"I do think the next step in my development will come in the Majors," Brault said. "I don't think that means I can't learn anything if they were to send me back to Triple-A, because I think I do a good job of taking advantage of whatever's put in front of me. That's something I take pride in."
Brault, 25, seems to have a clearer path to the bullpen. The Pirates could use another left-handed reliever in front of closer Felipe Rivero, but they have not acquired an experienced southpaw this offseason. Their current left-handed options are Jack Leathersich, Nik Turley and Brault.
Besides, what more does Brault realistically have to prove in the Minors?
Brault dominated in Triple-A last season, posting a 1.94 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP with 109 strikeouts in 120 1/3 innings over 21 outings (20 starts). He was so caught up in making it back to Pittsburgh, however, that he barely appreciated his success.
"It's funny to think I was kind of underwhelmed by the things I did in Triple-A last year because I wanted to be in the big leagues," Brault said. "Now when I look back and I think, 'Wow, that was a really, really good season.' I've never done anything like that."
Nor had Brault made a Major League start like he did on Sept. 11 in Milwaukee: six innings, one hit, one walk and six strikeouts with only 92 pitches thrown for his first MLB win. That kind of outing bolstered Brault's belief that he is ready to stick in the Majors -- no matter if he's a starter or a reliever.
"Having a really good, solid, dominant, efficient start that I can look back on and say, 'Yeah, that was it. That was me, and I can repeat that. That's not a fluke. The bad start's a fluke. The good start is me,'" Brault said. "You have to be able to take that confidence and take it with you every time you go out there."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.