Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 vs. 2017 Part 2: Pitching

Feb 19, 2017; Bradenton, FL, USA;Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pose for a photo for photo day at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2017; Bradenton, FL, USA;Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pose for a photo for photo day at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 19, 2017; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Bullpen

Last season, the Pirates bullpen struggled mightly at the outset. They eventually figured things out and become a strongpoint for the club for a bit. However, late in the season, they fell back again. This year, the Pirates ‘pen has potential to again be an asset, as A.J. Schugal, Tony Watson, Antiono Bastardo, Juan Nicasio and Felipe Rivero all have potential to be effective. However, hardly any of these guys have proven to be consistent.

Five of these pitchers are locks to make the Pirate bullpen. These five pitchers are Tony Watson, Daniel Hudson, Felipe Rivero, Juan Nicasio, and Antonio Bastardo. These leaves three pitchers battling for two spots. Those three pitchers are A.J. Schugel, Tyler Webb, and Wade LeBlanc.

Tony Watson is an established late-inning guy, but how will he be as a closer? Felipe Rivero can be electric, but can he be consistent? Same goes for Juan Nicasio. Antonio Bastardo is coming off a down year last season, so will the vet be able to bounce back?

The Pirate bullpen has the potential to be one of the best in the National League. However, it also has its fair share of question marks.