The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing some good baseball and are off to a nice start to the 2013 season. One major weakness of the success however, has been the failure of the starting pitching. Taking a big picture snapshot, the starters have sucked. They aren’t pitching deep into games (150.2IP–4th worst in MLB) and are also near the top of walks allowed (72-4th worst in MLB.)
Hence, the bullpen has been busy. Really busy. Only the Houston Astros bullpen has pitched more innings than the Pirates relievers have.
But the relief corps has been really good.
Against the Washington Nationals last night, Tony Watson went back out to pitch in the ninth inning of a tie ballgame. The results weren’t good. Watson continued the sloppy trend of the ballgame hitting Ryan Zimmerman who went to second on ex-Bucco Adam LaRoches’s single. The left-hander, despite the fact the game was tied, didn’t bother to keep a close eye on the Nats veteran on second base. Zimmerman got a huge jump and easily stole third with LaRoche following his lead and grabbing second base.
The double steal put the Natitude in business. A Tyler Moore sacrifice fly was the game winner.
Clint Hurdle‘s decision making is typically questioned in these types of games. Yesterday the Bucs skipper came out after the game to clarify his position on bullpen ussage at this very moment. It’s pretty apparent, Hurdle is concerned about his pen throwing 111+ innings thus far in 2013. The point is a valid one, but is it worth changing the strategy of allowing your best players to decide the outcome of the game?
Hurdle said Jason Grilli isn’t going to pitch in this type of situation due to his age. No idea what that means. The skiper also added that Mark Melancon isn’t going to pitch right now unless the team has a lead. No idea what that means either.
It’s pretty shocking to hear those words. We can’t defend it. The fact is the bullpen is getting a ton of work right now. It’s the way it is.
The game should have been much worse than it was. The Bucs pitchers continued their sloppiness (118 walks is second worst in MLB) and this time the Pirates offense, although it tried with bombs from Starling Marte and Always Smooth-Clint Barmes, didn’t bail them out.
Six walks, three hit batters, and two fielding errrors should have certainly added up to more than five runs for the Washington Nationals.
But it didn’t.
And that’s the point. With some agressive decision making, this game could have had a different outcome. And sure, as Hurdle said after the game–it’s easy to live in a world of second guessing.
Nobody is second guessing here. You know what–who would have questioned sending one of the two best Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers to the mound in the ninth inning?
Anyone questioning that move? Has anyone ever questioned a move like that from Hurdle? No, because it won’t happen. Not now. Not a month from now. Right now, the Bucs two best relievers are Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli.
Each will be well rested when the team tries to take the series today. It’s a shame the Bucs didn’t take care of that yesterday.