Evan Meek returns to the Pirates today after an impressive rehab stint. The Bucs sent Danny Moskos back to AAA. A healthy Evan Meek is a scary thought for the Pirates bullpen.
Meek has pitched in just eight games this season and clearly wasn’t the Meek we saw in 2010 when he was selected for the All-Star team after a dominating first half of the season.
Without Meek the Bucs were on cruise control for a period of time, but when Chris Resop started to struggle it was apparent the Pirates missed the right hander. Jen Langosch had this quote from Hurdle:
“You’d like to have that proven eighth inning guy and that’s what Evan became for us last year. We went through a stretch where we didn’t miss a click without him, and now you feel his absence.”
On April 29, Resop had shown the ability to be deadly for the Bucs.
Since then he has allowed nine earned runs in 9.2 innings pitched with five of those runs coming in two dreadful outings against Houston. He received quite the speech from Ray Searage during his struggles, and apparently lost the confidence of the staff. This weekend he was effective against Detroit striking out three, but the high leverage situations he had a stranglehold on early in the season look to be a thing of the past for the hard throwing righty.
Daniel McCutchen has recently been asked to pitch in the more high leverage situations and has continued his outstanding start to the season. McCutchen looked filthy again this weekend.
The only team to plate an earned run off McCutchen? The damn Brewers of course. McCutchen has now thrown 20.1 innings and given up 15 hits and three runs.
The return of Moskos to AAA gives the Pirates one left hander in the pen, Joe Beimel. Moskos simply didn’t see the field much and we believe a return to AAA was a good move by the Bucs. Jose Ascanio deserves a look and with Meek back and presumably healthy this bullpen could really be dominant.
Ascanio certainly wouldn’t have cleared waivers, he throws hard and deserves the scholarship. The big question is will he keep it? While limiting Hurdle with only Beimel in the pen, sending Moskos down was the right move.
The man who has impressed us the most is Jose Veras. We knew he would put up impressive strikeout numbers, but by limiting his walks, he has become highly valuable. Veras has a WHIP is 1.07. The cheese pumpin right hander has struckout 28 and walked just eight in 19.2 innings. The bad guys are hitting just .188.
When Veras has a bat in his hand, watch out. Veras has reached base in every plate appearance in the bigs.
And of course, what’s a bullpen without a closer?
The Pirates have Mr. Perfect. Joel Hanrahan has shut down 13 of 13 save opportunites for the Pirates. No wonder the Rangers are sniffing around looking for a deal. As much as we would believe Hanrahan would love to play for a serious contender, it certainly is nice knowing the highest leverage situations are in his capable right arm. The only blemish in his last ten games was that harmless homer against the Reds.
The Pirates bullpen has everything the team needs to get to Hanrahan with Meek now back in the pen. It also has depth in the minors which is an even better indication that the team is improving.