Overall, and I feel like I say this every week; the Pirates were up-and-down. It was an inconsistent set of games that ended with an average record. The hot topic surrounding this team the past few weeks has been how manager Clint Hurdle uses the bullpen. Here is my take on that.
I do not believe in the closer role. I do not believe in saves. The way I see it, the best relief pitcher in a bullpen should pitch in the biggest situations. Those don’t always come in the ninth inning. They could come in the eighth. Or the seventh. In short, despite how terrible things ended up Friday night, I agreed with the way Hurdle managed things.
Felipe Rivero got a chance to go against the top of the Cubs lineup late in the game, and he got the job done. It was sensible for Hurdle to have his best reliever going against a big part of the order. It also made sense for the Bucco skipper to trust Juan Nicasio, who has been dominant all year long, to shut the door in the ninth. It didn’t work out. Things like that happen.
I haven’t been too crazy about the way the Pirates have handled their bullpen. It took way too long to get Tony Watson out of the closer’s role, and the team lost games because of it. That said, Hurdle did nothing wrong in the Chicago series. He used his best pitcher when he needed too, and more importantly, disregarded the garbage statistic that is the save.
As for the rest of the homestand, it was what is was. The Pirates are an inconsistent baseball team. A mediocre team. At times, a lousy team. Amazingly, the NL Central is so horrible, that if all goes perfect, these guys could be two games out of first. Baseball sure is fun.