The core four
Four relievers will enter Spring Training with a job locked up in the Pirate bullpen. Felipe Vazquez will be Clint Hurdle‘s closer, while Keone Kela serves as his primary setup man. After bursting onto the scene in 2018, right-handed pitchers Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez are also locks to make the pen. Crick and Rodriguez can both pitch in high leverage situations, while also being able to go multiple innings in middle relief if asked to do so.
There are few bullpen quartets in the National League, or all of baseball for that matter, better than the Pirates’ core four. The one thing missing from this group is another left-handed reliever fur Hurdle to have at his disposal before call upon Vazquez. But, as we will get into later on in this slideshow, there are talented options that could emerge as that pitcher for the Bucs.
In 2018 when the Pirates handed a lead to these four relievers the team won more often than not. This is a big reason why they exceeded expectations last season on their way to their fourth winning record in the last six seasons. These four figure to be reliable, borderline automatic once again in 2019.