Pittsburgh Pirates: Struggling Pitchers Rebound & Other Takeaways From Series Split vs Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 29: Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Starling Marte #6 after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Pirates won 7-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 29: Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Starling Marte #6 after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Pirates won 7-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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CINCINNATI, OH – MAY 29: Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the third inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – MAY 29: Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the third inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

A pair of struggling pitchers rebounded

Entering the series, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff was in a bad way. In the first three games of the series, not much changed. Nick Kingham failed to get out of the 5th inning in game one, and, despite the team’s victory, four relievers were used. In games two and three, their starters struggled and the bullpen was taxed.

In Wednesday afternoon’s finale, the much maligned Steven Brault took the mound. To the surprise of many, the lefty turned in one of the best outings of his MLB career.

Brault pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed just three hits, issued two walks (one of which was intentional). and he struck out five. Throughout the start Brault looked comfortable and had the best command of the strike zone that he has all season.

This strong start was much needed for both Brault and the Pirates. If Brault can give the team anything close to this once every five days, it will help to keep this team afloat until Trevor Williams and/or Jameson Taillon return.

In addition to Brault, reliever Richard Rodriguez had a big bounce back series.

Rodriguez was promoted as the team’s 26th man for Monday’s doubleheader. Following Monday’s action, he was kept around as Mitch Keller was optioned back to Triple-A.

In the series Rodriguez pitched in three games and posted 1 2/3 scoreless innings of work. He retired all six batters he faced and struck out three of them. This was much more like the Rodriguez of 2018 that was a key member of the Pirate pen, and not the Rodriguez of 2019 that was optioned to the minors.

Best of all, Rodriguez stranded all three runners he inherited in the series. Last season, no NL reliever was better at stranding inherited runners than Rodriguez was. A big reason the Pirate bullpen has struggled this season is because they have missed what Rodriguez brought to the pen in 2018. Hopefully, this series was a sign of Rodriguez getting back on track.

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