This evening, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced via twitter that closer Jason Grilli has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique. The move is retroactive to April 21.
The team has recalled Jared Hughes from Triple-A Indinapolis and the sinker baller will take Grilli’s roster spot. Hughes pitched one scoreless inning this week giving up a couple hits after getting two quick outs. Hughes was then sent back down to AAA.
UPDATE: Major League Baseball has nixed the move as Hughes was on the roster when the Bucs are looking to back date the move. So the Pirates will be a player short tonight, and Hughes will have to return to Indy. (Should known this as it seemed odd to even type)
The Pirates dominant closer a year ago has been anything but early in the 2013 season. The right hander allowed bombs in each of his most recent outings. On April 19, Ryan Braun hit a two-run bomb to give the Brewers an 8-7 lead.
The very next day, Grilli hung a breaking ball, belt high, and Braun crushed it for a solo shot. The homers off the bat of Pirates killer Braun resulted in blown saves and subsequent Pirates losses. The team had it’s worst home stand in a long time and now must decide who will be closing games while Grilli recovers.
Everyone looks at set-up man Mark Melancon to be the answer as he did in 2013. Melancon recorded 16 saves for the Bucs last year while Grilli was recovering from an arm injury.
Grilli didn’t pitch as extensively during spring training, but most defended the idea even using Mariano Rivera’s light spring work load as the crutch. Now facing a big series in St. Louis, the Pirates will be turning the ball over to Melancon, or might consider other excellent options such as Bryan Morris or left hander Tony Watson.
The Pirates bullpen depth will serve as a strong suit during the eleven days Grilli will be out of action.