When the Pirates announced that Tony Sanchez and Stolmy Pimentel would join the team on Labor Day, it was understood that there would be a number of additional call-ups in the next 24 hours after Indianapolis’s season officially ended with yesterday’s game. They announced the rest of the call-ups today and while there were two obvious call-ups (Gregory Polanco and Jeff Locke) and two guys you probably could have guessed were coming (Chase d’Arnaud to pinch run and Casey Sadler), there are also two mild surprises: John Holdzkom and Bobby LaFromboise.
I honestly had never heard of Holdzkom at all before the Bucs put him on the 40-man roster on Sunday, and I thought that move was odd when it happened. He will apparently become the first New Zealander to play in the Major Leagues when he makes his debut (thanks to @Briligerent for that link), and before signing with the Pirates earlier this year he had been in various independent leagues for most of 2013 and 2014 after washing out with the Mets (who picked him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft). That’s not to imply that Holdzkom isn’t interesting: he’s big and he throws hard (Wilbur Miller says his fastball has hit triple digits) and his numbers with Indianapolis this year looked awfully nice, despite some control problems (27 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings, just 14 hits, one homer, and six walks to go with his 2.49 ERA). The Pirates obviously like him, because the move to get him on the 40-man on Sunday must have been made to make him eligible for the playoff roster. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pretty quickly.
The Pirates claimed LaFromboise from the Mariners just a couple of weeks ago; he’s a lefty that had put up decent peripherals as a reliever in the high minors, though he’s also always been old for his level. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot to him, to be honest, but with Tony Watson and Mark Melancon (aka the Pirates’ two most effective relievers against left-handed hitters) being used in set eight-and-ninth inning spots, the Pirates could use another lefty in the bullpen. I suppose we’ll see if he’s what the need.
LaFromboise was also already on the 40-man roster, so pretty much any of these relievers that pitch well down the stretch could conceivably earn themselves a spot on the playoff roster, should the Pirates have need of a playoff roster this year. Certainly, the Pirates have room for any reliever capable of getting outs that isn’t named Melancon or Watson, and shouldn’t be terribly attached to anyone else. Chase d’Arnaud would not, by my understanding, be eligible, since he was just put on the 40-man today (goodbye, Michael Martinez), unless there’s still a disabled list loophole (there probably is, baseball is full of loopholes).