State of the Pittsburgh Pirates I: Jekyll and Hyde

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) and catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) celebrate after defeating the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park. The Pirates won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Most pleasant Surprise: Tony Watson

After the trade of Mark Melancon last July, the closer spot became a big concern for Pirates fans and remained that way through the end of 2016 and beginning of ’17.

After a rough end to last season, some fans expected Watson to continue to struggle in 2017. Other expected him to bounce back. Few, however, envisioned that Watson would be thriving the way he is right now.

As of May 9, Watson is a perfect seven for seven in save opportunities, having allowed just one earned run- a wind-aided bomb to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant on April 15. While it is true that Watson tends to put men on base, and that he isn’t even the best pitcher in the Pirates bullpen, as Felipe Rivero has been even more dominant, Watson has gotten the job done every time he’s had to. Besides, whenever he pulls a Mike Williams and makes things hairy, it’s usually a result of the Pirates knack for butchering their defensive responsibilities.

At the moment, Watson has locked down the closer role, and hopefully, the Pirates back-end continues to be among the games finest as the season trundles along.