Can Geoff Hartlieb Be A Mainstay In The Pittsburgh Pirates Bullpen?


Geoff Hartlieb has shown flashes of dominance thus far in his two appearances in the big leagues. It raises the question, can he become a force in the middle innings or back end of the pen at some point? He certainly has the stuff to be able to do so. 

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted reliever Geoff Hartlieb from Triple-A Indianapolis. This was a move that was long overdue and should have happened a few weeks ago.

In his first two appearances he made Padres hitters look clueless in the box. Hartlieb only has 1 and 2/3 innings under his belt, but his stuff looked very effective. He hasn’t given up a hit in those innings, and he’s recorded his first career strikeout.

Hartlieb has been very good at getting swings and misses in the minors. In four seasons at four different levels, he sports a 10.9 K/9. That will play at any level.

Hartlieb’s ability to induce batters to swing is impressive as his pitches have great deception to them. That is something the Pirates value in their back end of the bullpen guys. He also does not allow many home runs as he has only surrendered ten of them in 167.1 innings pitched in his minor league career.

His sinker ball has great downward movement that doesn’t allow hitters to lift the ball against him. The Pirates have been familiarized with late inning home runs given up this season thus far due to Richard Rodriguez struggling. This gives Hartlieb a shot to become a mainstay in Pittsburgh while Rodriguez tries to get back to his 2018 form.

Hartlieb also has a nasty slider. This slider, combined with a fastball that has can touch as high as 98, is a combination any MLB reliever would love to have. It is also one that will play at the MLB level, and generate plenty of swings and misses and weak contact.

The only concern with Hartlieb is the amount of walks he can issue. He averaged 5.2 BB/9 in the minors, which is an alarming statistic. Walks can not be tolerated at the big league level because the chances that they come back to bite you are usually pretty good.

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If he can limit the amount of walks and work on his control, along with continuing to rack up the strike outs, Hartlieb could make a solid 7th inning guy in front of Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez.

Granted, he doesn’t even have two full innings pitched for the Pirates yet, but what he has shown so far has been very impressive.