Brian Wilson held a throwing session for a group of twelve teams yesterday, including the Pirates, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Wilson looked good according to scouts that were present, hitting ninety-three MPH with his fastball, and reports from his private throwing session with the Giants earlier in the week at the University of San Francisco say that he’s throwing good secondary pitches as well, which makes it sound as if Wilson may be ready to return to action, after the second Tommy John surgery of his career has kept him out for nearly a year and a half.
The Pirates are still trying to get a better gauge as to how long Jason Grilli will be out with his forearm/elbow injury, and in the meantime, Mark Melancon will do just fine as a closer. But Brian Wilson could be a good addition to solidify the middle of the bullpen while not costing much to pick up, compared to making a deadline trade in a thin market that’s even thinner when it comes to relief pitching.
Signing Wilson would be a low-risk deal, but unlikely to be a huge reward. Wilson was a good pitcher, but after not pitching in game situations in so long, you’d have to wonder how well he’ll do upon his return – especially given that during his earlier time in the big leagues, he struggled with control issues. One Tommy John surgery is often enough to scare teams away from signing a pitcher, but two is likely to scare many more teams away.
If the Pirates were to sign Wilson, he shouldn’t be expected to immediately step in as a back-end, shutdown guy, but rather as a middle-innings-eating right-hander to help a bullpen that has seen extensive use… perhaps to the point of overuse. If the Pirates sign him and he exceeds those expectations, there will only be on thing to say: Got heem!
*update: Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Grilli will be out 4-8 weeks with a strained right flexor tendon.