Matt Albers Makes Perfect Sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates


Bullpens are interesting entities. Due to the thoroughly fungible and flammable nature of relief pitching, one bullpen can be stellar one season and then, without any major changes, become the baseball equivalent of pouring a canister of petrol on a bonfire the next. The firemen of the bullpen, instead of extinguishing the blaze, would be more like the firemen in Ray Bradbury’s universe.

With that concept in mind, a team can never have enough depth in the bullpen. Just because pitchers like Tony Watson and Jared Hughes were excellent last season does not necessarily mean that will carry over to the 2015 year. After all, how many relievers have suddenly flamed out spectacularly?

That is why the Pirates should look towards bringing in another relief pitcher. While relievers like Francisco Rodriguez are still available, the Pirates may just need a veteran middle reliever, just to shore up their bullpen depth and to be covered in the event of injury or ineffectiveness. Perhaps the Pirates should look to someone like Matt Albers.

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Yes, Albers himself went through an injury plagued 2014 season, pitching only ten innings for the Astros. However, in the two years prior to his shoulder injury, Albers had posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.200 WHiP across 123.1 innings of work. That type of production would certainly have a role in a major league bullpen.

While Matt Albers is not exactly close to a flamethrower, striking out 6.3 batters per nine innings over his career, he has become quite the ground ball pitcher. Albers has a 59.4% ground ball rate since 2012, and has gotten 2.19 outs on grounders for every fly ball out. If the Pirates are in need of a pitcher to bring in to get that desperately needed ground ball for a possible double play, Albers would be a solid option.

Another reason why Albers may be attractive to the Pirates would be his possible contract. After missing much of last season, Albers may be able to be had for a minor league deal. If his shoulder is healthy, which it appears to be the case based on his recent MRIs, then Albers could be a true steal.

Signing a veteran reliever with some history of success, like Matt Albers has, to a minor league contract with an invitation to the major league camp could be a great move for the Pirates. He would not cost much, and if he impresses in Spring Training, could fill out the bullpen. Albers could be solid depth at AAA in case of an injury. And, if he gets hurt or does not look right, the Pirates could walk away with virtually nothing lost.

Matt Albers would be an interesting signing for the Pirates. With what he is liekly to cost, he would certainly be worth taking a look at.

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