How to Build a Bullpen: Pirates Neal Huntington and Company At It Again

The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has been balls to the wall in 2011.

 

Sometimes when youre not blessed with a lot of money, a man must work harder to achieve his goals.  In that realm, it seems that since dirt was invented, Neal Huntington has been very proficient at building a bullpen for his ballclub.

With the addition of Jason Grilli, let’s trust it continues.

The Pirates are headed into a serious stretch of their 2011 schedule as they will play the longest length of games without a break under MLB rules.  A strong effort from the bullpen will be necessary to come out on the end still in striking distance of the NL Central.

The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has been solid, spectacular at numerous times, but some fainting questions persist.

Before yesterday, Jose Veras had been scored on in each of his past two appearances.  He gave up three runs, got the blown save and the loss against the Astros on Saturday while he got just one out.  Then on Sunday, BadVeras gave up a run and got two outs.  Looking at the big picture, Veras has been scored on just nine times in his last 41 games (37IP/11ER.)

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Chris Resop  had a tender forearm recently, but despite that pesky injury, ‘The King’ has averaged 10.92K/9.  Resop came into the game Tuesday with the bases loaded and got a groundball to end the inning while he pitched 1.1 scoreless.  Over his last 18 appearances, Resop has fired 14.1 innings, allowed just two earned runs and sent 17 bad guys back to the dugout on strikes.

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Left hander Joe Beimel has been less than outstanding in our eyes since coming off the DL.  He left a ball up in the zone, but fortunately it was Jay Bruce who swung and missed as he does so well, and the Reds left the bases drunk.   Still, Beimel has been scored on just once in his last 11 outings.   However, that fact doesn’t stop my pacing habit.

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Evan Meek is rehabbing from a shoulder problem and was sent to the 60-day DL today.  A return of Meek to Pittsburgh is in serious question with that move.

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For every question, Neal Huntington and his crew have provided answers.  Just look at a few more of the success stories from the 2011 season:

Joel Hanrahan the cowboy closer (heh Kurt loves Cowboys--beats Hammer right?)

Joel Hanrahan was never All-Star caliber at closing until he came to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Hanrahan has put in a ton of work to achieve what he has this year, but it’s a testament to the scouts who saw the ability for it to happen and the coaching staff who made him believe in it.

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Tony Watson was converted from a starter to a reliever last year at AA Altoona.  In his first 18 big league games, Watson has been scored on only three times.

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What Daniel McCutchen has become is unreal.  A leave ‘em stranded machine.  The DANIMAL allowed zero earned runs in April, three in May, and seven in June.  The GreatWhiteCutch, Caucasion Cutch, The Non-Ethnic Cutch,  has given up just one earned run while pitching the eighth inning this year.  (12.1IP/1ER)

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Relief pitchers are only good to a team when they are hot.  The Pirates have done a great job at making sure the bullpen arms stay hot.

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Others have not.  It’s not an easy thing to do, just watch the St. Louis Cardinals when they come to PNC this weekend.  It’s been difficult for the Cards to keep their bullpen hot.    Fernando Salas is the closer come lately after being one of the last arms cut in March.    The team was getting solid work from Eduardo Sanchez, but his shoulder now is achy.

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A hot bullpen is fun to enjoy.  We need to look no further than St. Louis to realize that fact.
Thanks Neal.  Thanks scouts.  Thanks coaches.  Your hard work is paying off in wins.

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Kudos to two funny guys who helped immensely in this post,
Follow 4everRebuilding on Twitter
Follow Fakemarkdamico on Twitter

Topics: Daniel McCutchen, Evan Meek, Jason Grilli, Joe Beimel, Joel Hanrahan, Jose Veras, Pirates Photoshop, Pittsburgh Pirates

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