Pittsburgh Pirates Bullpen Is Back


The Pirates bullpen ends with Mark Melancon who has been lights out recently.

The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has climbed back to just above replacement level as they seek a spot in the 2014 postseason.  Not so long ago, the Pirates were the worst bullpen in the league–the numbers were so bad, the team attempted to address the weaknesses with trades.  The ball club traded away their closer Jason Grilli and also moved Bryan Morris to the Marlins.  The moves made the 2013 shut down Shark Tank a distant memory, but the Bucs bullpen is showing some life in the month of September.

Before Saturday’s (not so) Special game against the Chicago Cubs the Pirates bullpen had a combined ERA of 1.08 in September.  Skipper Clint Hurdle spoke about the growth of the bullpen and even talked about it being in

"”the best position it’s been all year late, and we very well could be headed in that vein right now, at least from my perspective.”"

Jun 9, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Mark Melancon (35) pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Of course it all ends with Mark Melancon who has sparkled in his last 11.2 innings, Mark the Shark has punched out 13 while allowing just one earned run.

Tony Watson is the Ice Man.

All Star Tony Watson has been the Ice Man all season and continues to shine recently– in his last 10.1 innings, the southpaw has not allowed a run while pitching 10.1 innings and striking out 12.

Justin Wilson gave up a homer last night which tweeks those ERA numbers above, but Wilson has picked it up in his last ten appearances as well going eight innings, striking out eight and giving up a pair of runs.

Of course it’s hard to ignore phenom John Holdzkom who has pitched five shutout innings and struckout nine batters.

Under the radar pickup John Axford has struck out ten in his last 8.2 innings surrendering two earned runs.

After being strong throughout the season, Jared Hughes has sucked recently allowing four earned runs in his past 8.2 innings and walked three.

The numbers still show the Bucs bullpen to be among the worst in baseball with just 0.5 WAR, but it’s been a different bullpen over the past month.  The addition of John Holdzkom can also really change things and could be the bridge the Pirates have been searching for throughout the year.

So just when the Pirates needed the bullpen to pick up the starters, the bullpen is doing just that.  Now if they can keep it up, the bullpen can have an opportunity to continue their turnaround into the month of October.

H/T: Trib Live