The drama of roster expansion

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In five days -- Sept. 1 -- MLB active roster limits will expand by 60 percent and go from 25 to 40. Few teams, if any, take full advantage of this rule, but most contenders will push their rosters over 30 in an attempt to give their manager more flexibility in how he runs the game. There will be more pitching changes, more pinch-hitters and more pinch-runners. It's almost a different brand of baseball, which is why some people think the expanded roster is not a good idea.

But the Pirates and other contenders will embrace it. No team wants to be caught short strategically in the important games of September.

Which leads to the topic of the day. How many players will the Pirates add to their roster? Who will they be?

It's not a simple as it sounds because the Pirates top farm club at Indianapolis, from where they will be adding players, is going to be involved in the International League playoffs. The wants and needs of the parent club come first, but it is bad form to strip bare a division-winning farm club as it enters the postseason.

Here are the pitching candidates that might join the Pirates: Vic Black, Brandon Cumpton, Kris Johnson, Andy Oliver, Stolmy Pimentel, Ryan Reid, Duke Welker.

Catcher: Kelly Shoppach

Infielders: Russ Canzler, Chase d'Arnaud, Matt Hague, Ivan De Jesus.

Outfielder: Alex Presley

That's 13 candidates. Not all will join the Pirates. All those who will join the team won't be here on Sept. 1. Some will come later. Some will come when the Indianapolis season ends.

Some of these moves will depend on what's transpiring on the MLB level. If, for example, Jeff Locke has another bad start or two, the Pirates might remove him from the rotation temporarily in favor of Cumpton or Johnson. The same scenario might apply if the team want to skip a Gerrit Cole start.

I would expect the Pirates to be pretty thick with pitchers before September is very old. They have some arms that can help. Black, Reid, Welker, Cumpton and Johnson have experience this season with the Pirates.

At least two relievers will/should join the team Sept. 1. Like all managers, Clint Hurdle loves the flexibility of a deep, well-rested bullpen. Nine relievers gives him that every night. Black and Reid would be the most likely choices.

Shoppach also figures to join the team Sept. 1 to give Hurdle flexibility in pinch-hitting with his catchers, particularly when Russell Martin isn't starting. Presley also should join the team.

Others will come later.

My questions to you:

* Who will come?

* When will the come?

* Which player being promoted will make the biggest impact on the remainder of the season?

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