Pittsburgh Pirates: Bullpen Woes Continues in Exhibition Loss to Indians


Through two exhibition games against the Cleveland Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has been, to put it lightly, bad

Monday night in Cleveland, the Pittsburgh Pirates continued to tune up for the 2020 regular season with the second of three exhibition games they will play against the Indians. This game was the one of three that was scheduled to be played away from PNC Park.

On Monday night, the Pirates were defeated by the Indians 11-7. As was the case on Saturday night, the starting pitcher did well as did the offense, but the bullpen was a hot mess in the team’s loss.

As was the case in Saturday night’s loss, the Pittsburgh Pirates struck first on Monday night. In the top of the 2nd inning Colin Moran singled to give him three hits in his first four at bats of exhibition play. This was followed by a Phillip Evans home run that made the score 2-0 Pirates.

Evans is a player that Pirate manager Derek Shelton raved about in Grapefruit League play where he raked and throughout summer camp. Evans is competing for a spot on the Pirate bench, and is continuing to make a big push for a spot.

Making the start for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night was right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams. This was the final tune up for the regular season for Williams, who is scheduled to start the second game of the regular season in St. Louis on Saturday.

Williams looked strong on Monday night. In 2.2 innings of work he allowed two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out one. The lone run Williams allowed was an inherited runner that Chris Stratton failed to strand.

Williams was in good command of his off speed pitches which were playing well. Batters were late and behind on his fastball, which was the trademark of the success Williams had during his strong 65 start stretch from May 2017 – May 2019. If this start was any indication, the extra work Williams got to do with new pitching coach Oscar Marin during the shutdown looks like it will help get Williams bounce back after struggling in the final three months of 2019.

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After Stratton struggled allowing a pair of runs in 1.1 innings of work, the Pirates found themselves trailing 3-2 in the 5th inning. Leading off the 5th inning, Guillermo Heredia hit a home run to tie the game at 3.

The tie would not last long, however, as Richard Rodriguez took the mound in the bottom of the 5th inning and got shelled. He allowed a 4 runs on a pair of home runs, which made the score 7-3 Indians.

This was a very concerning outing from Rodriguez. His fastball which averaged 93.2 MPH in 2019 sat mostly in the 90-91 range, and home runs continued to be an issue for him. Rodriguez was one of the worst pitchers in baseball when it came to limiting home runs in 2019, if that continues to be a problem in 2020 he likely will not last long in the bullpen for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After a Josh Bell home run cut the Cleveland lead to 7-4, the home run issues for the Pirate bullpen continued. Michael Feliz allowed a two-out solo shot to Mike Freeman in the bottom of the 6th inning. This made the score 8-4 Indians. This was the lone run Feliz allowed in his inning of work.

Dovydas Neverauskas, who did a nice job of cleaning up a mess on Saturday night, would then become the next pitcher to throw batting practice to the Indians. Competing for a roster spot, the out-of-options Neverauskas allowed 2 runs on three hits, making the score 10-5 Indians.

Entering summer camp there were plenty of question marks around the bullpen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and this was before Keone Kela was placed on the injured list. Through two exhibition games the Pirate bullpen has been very poor. Unfortunately, that very well may become a trend in the regular season.

In the top of the 8th inning the Pirates would mount a rally.

Moran stayed hot when he led the inning off with a home run. Evans then continued his push to make the roster when he followed Moran’s home run with a double, and he would score on an infield hit by Osuna that was accompanied by a throwing error. Infield prospect Rodolfo Castro then worked a walk to put two men on with no one out.

Following Castro’s walk, Brito reached on an infield hit to load the bases. However, the Pirates would fail to capitalize after back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out. Loading the bases with no one out and failing to score… the Pirate offense is already in mid-season form!

With Pittsburgh Pirates now trailing just 10-7, they turned to left-handed minor league free agent signee Robbie Erlin. Unfortunately, the Indian batting practice would continue. Erlin allowed a home run to start the inning. This made the score 11-7 Indians.

Whenever Derek Shelton goes to the bullpen this season, you may want to get the anxiety meds and rosaries ready.

Next. Can Defense be an X-Factor for the Pirates in 2020?. dark

Next up for the Pittsburgh Pirates is their final of three exhibition games against the Cleveland Indians. That game will be at 7:05 on Wednesday night at PNC Park, the game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet and the Pirate Radio Network. Veteran lefty Derek Holland will make the start for the Bucs.