The Pittsburgh Pirates are in dire need of bullpen help, and the Toronto Blue Jays are shopping potential bullpen help.
Through the first 43 games of the 2016 Major League Baseball season the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has struggled mightily. The Pirates currently rank 21st in the Majors in bullpen home run rate (1.11 HR/9), 27th in FIP (4.60), 28th in WAR (-0.7), and 29th in xFIP (4.68). If the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to catch and then beat out the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division, their bullpen is going to have to be better.
The biggest issue for the Pirate bullpen has been the middle relief. The back end of the Pirate bullpen anchored by Neftali Feliz, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon has still been very good. However, getting the ball from the Pirate starters to the back end has been a major issue.
The options at AAA to help the Pittsburgh Pirates are few and far between. A.J. Schugel was effective for the Pirates this season before returning to AAA, and Rob Scahill was good in spurts. However, that is about it.
During his radio show on Sunday afternoon Pirate General Manager Neal Huntington said that the Pirates may look to the trade market for bullpen help. An arm the Pittsburgh Pirates should target in trade talks right now is right-handed reliever Drew Storen.
According to multiple reports, the Toronto Blue Jays are shopping the former All-Star closer. In the offseason the Blue Jays acquired Storen from the Washington Nationals in exchange for outfielder Ben Revere. This was a move the Blue Jays had hoped would help what was a bad bullpen for them a year ago, but so far this season things have not gone according to plan for Storen.
In 15 innings pitched Storen has allowed 22 hits and his home run rate of 2.40 HR/9 is entirely too high. This has resulted in Storen posting a 7.80 ERA and 5.39 FIP through his first 18 games of the season. However, Storen still has strong strike out (9.60 K/9) and walk (2.40) rates. Furthermore, his .391 BABIP and 3.60 xFIP both indicate he is due for some major improvement.
Storen’s biggest problem is giving up too many home runs, but that would be much less of an issue at PNC Park than at the bandboxes he pitches at now in the American League East. Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, and, especially, the Rogers Center in Toronto are all great hitters parks. Just getting Storen out of that environment alone should be enough to help with his astronomical home run rate.
Even though his velocity is down somewhat this season, Drew Storen‘s fastball has still averaged a healthy 92.6 miles per hour this season. All four of Drew Storen’s pitches (change up, fastball, sinker, and slider) have had more movement on them this season than any other season in the past. So, it is clear that the tools and stuff are still there for Storen he just needs to stop allowing home runs.
In my opinion, adding Drew Storen to the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen would strengthen the Pirate middle relief. Storen’s biggest issue has been allowing too many home runs, which should be less of an issue at PNC Park. Plus, getting to work with Ray Searage can only help Storen.
Finally, with how bad the Pirate middle relief has been this season, as long as Storen pitched to his 3.60 xFIP that he has this season he would be a massive upgrade to the middle relief of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Getting more innings and length out of their starting pitchers, which has been happening lately, would help the bullpen immensely as well. This is because this would allow the Pirates to use their middle relief less often. However, middle relief help is still needed.
The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen needs middle relief help and this help will most likely have to come via trade. The Toronto Blue Jays are shopping right-handed reliever Drew Storen, and Storen could provide the Pirates with the middle relief help that they need. Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington needs to get on the phone with Toronto Blue Jay General Manager Ross Atkins about Drew Storen.
*- All stats and pitch data were taken from Fangraphs