The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has delivered in a big way as the second month of the season winds to a close this week. The Buccos bullpen has put up video-game-like numbers which, game after game, makes us wonder when the bottom will drop out.
Clint Hurdle talked about the depth of the Bucs relievers to reporter Rob Biertempfel, and stated that other teams might be interested in what the Bucs have stockpiled.
Jason Grilli has struck out 34 batters in 21.2 innings of work, trailing Ardolis Chapman by just four. The Pirates closer has allowed only three earned runs.
Mark Melancon has punched out 27 in 26 innings while giving up just two earned runs.
Southpaw Justin Wilson has provided 29 innings of filthy work, whiffing 28 and giving up just five earned runs.
The Shark Tank has also received solid support from it’s other members – and the success doesn’t end at the big leagues: Down at Triple-A Indianapolis, some names you might remember from spring training are doing work:
Ryan Reid has given up just two earned runs in 29 innings while striking out 30. Both of the righty’s runs came on homers, while he has allowed only 16 hits and nine walks.
Mike Zagurski has given up five earned runs while striking out 33 in 24 innings. What?
Vic Black had a rough outing early in the season, but has been solid, piling up 34 strikeouts in as many innings. The hard-throwing Black has eleven saves for the Indianapolis Indians.
Duke Welker has given up eight earned runs–all in a three game stretch in the middle of May. The 6’7″ Welker has 26 strikeouts in 22.2 innings.
"“You would think from an industry standpoint that there are people with some holes that might be looking,” Hurdle said. “We are creating depth, we are creating interest, as we move into the season.”"
Depth is a good thing. It’s nearly impossible to see the Bucs moving the left-handed Zagurski when he is pitching this well. Reid, Black and Welker would be served best getting some big-league time, but the Pirates are intrigued by Jose Contreras.
We think if the team feels Contreras can be effective, it’s hard to picture any of the three getting to the bigs anytime soon. The news about Jeff Karstens being shutdown could be a glimmer of hope for the pitchers in Indy looking to get to the bigs before the trade deadline. If someone falters in the Bucs pen while Karstens is out of the picture, another spot possibly could open.
The Bucs got a nice take with Rudy Owens and Robbie Grossman never getting their names written in a big league lineup card. But it’s hard to imagine Huntington pulling another reliever-for-regular like he did with Brad Lincoln for Travis Snider.
Lincoln had some big league traction; that’s not the case for Black and Welker.
In looking at the bullpen production in recent years, we selfishly think the Bucs would be much better served keeping their stockpile. We would much rather the Indy Shark Tank continue to get the job done with the Triple-A club. But should more Contreras or Jared Hughes struggles return, we would be excited to see the cavalry from Indy head to the Burgh.
Here is the link to Rob Biertempfels’ Notebook