Jinxes don’t exist. The Sports Illustrated story on the Pittsburgh Pirates has nothing to do with what happened to Jason Grilli in the ninth inning at Nationals Park. Let’s just say that bad things seem to happen to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second half of their recent Major League Baseball seasons. We can leave it at that.
How the Pittsburgh Pirates win baseball games moving forward in this exciting 2013 season is about to change. Grilli called it a minor setback on twitter last night with a very telling hashtag.
As you heard, the team identified it as forearm discomfort. The two worse words Pirates fans could possibly hear after the same words were used regarding Kyle McPherson and Wandy Rodriguez, two pitchers that would have certainly helped a Bucs pitching staff that has been well above average this season.
The first half of the 2013 season resembled the 2012 season in one distinct characteristic. The ninth inning.
Closing out the ninth inning of close ballgames was nearly automatic for the Bucs thanks to their 36-year old well-traveled closer this season. In 2012, Joel Hanrahan did the same.
Most of Grilli’s appearances were rather ho-hum. Grilli was dominant in the role of closer. The eye-popping numbers ignited Pirates fans, the 13.4 K/9 rate made it especially enjoyable as Grilli went 30-for-31 in piling up saves.
Grilli provides a unique brand of leadership. The first-round draft pick skyrocketed once he put on the black and gold jersey. This offseason, he turned down more money to return to the Bucs. And then he went out and was lights out as a closer. Story book stuff.
But rest assured, the Pirates have depth in the back end of the bullpen, even if the depth is young. The team has certainly showed off it’s depth in starting pitchers this season and now it will have the same opportunity to flash the growth of the ball club. The options are many and each of them is intriguing and more importantly very qualified. Take your pick from Jared Hughes, fire balling Vic Black, even Duke Welker who has got the call to the bigs a couple times this season.
But this adversity is also an opportunity for Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates offense to look in the mirror. It’s time for the Bucs to start scoring runs. Getting on base. Driving in runs. Providing the excellent bullpen with some cushion.
McCutchen already started last night.