The Pittsburgh Pirates Bullpen Misses A.J. Schugel

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 30: A.J. Schugel
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 30: A.J. Schugel /

The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has struggled mightily to start the season and a big reason for this is that the team misses A.J. Schugel

Through the first 11 games of the 2018 season the goods news for the Pittsburgh Pirates is that they are 8-3. The bad news is that their bullpen has been the worst in the National League and this is a big reason why they are not 9-2 or 10-1.

The biggest issue for the bullpen has been the middle relief, and it is not a coincidence that the Pirates are missing arguably their best middle reliever from the past two seasons. This pitcher is A.J. Schugel.

Back on February 25th A.J. Schugel exited a Grapefruit League Game with shoulder discomfort and he has not pitched in a game since. Unfortunately, there are no signs that he will return to throwing or start a rehab stint any time soon.

The past two seasons Schugel has been a vastly underrated member of the Pirate bullpen. In 84 innings pitched for the Pirates in 2016 and 2017 Schugel averaged 7.82 K/9, 2.89 BB/9, he allowed just 72 hits, 7 home runs, and he owns a 3.00 ERA and a 3.50 FIP.

Schugel also did great work for the Pirates in high-leverage situations the past two seasons. According to FanGraphs, Schugel pitched a total of 23 2/3 innings that came in either high or medium leverage situations the past two seasons. He allowed just 19 hits, a single home run, and he struck out 21 batters in these 23 2/3 innings pitched. That is something this bullpen misses dearly in middle relief right now.

Schugel also did fine work in a fireman role for Clint Hurdle in 2017. Last season Schugel inherited 29 base runners, and he was able to strand 17 of them. This would be a huge shot in the arm for the current Pirate bullpen as stranding runners is something they have struggled with this season.

Next: Bullpen Implodes as Pirates Get Blasted by the Cubs

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ bullpen is struggling mightily to start the season, especially in middle relief with Dovydas Neverauskas and Josh Smoker. A big issue is that other than Kyle Crick, there are not many depth options available at Triple-A.

This bullpen misses A.J. Schugel.