Goal 3: Figure Out Who’s Part Of The Long Term Future
Mears, Bednar, Cederlind and Oviedo are all likely going to be part of the team’s long-term bullpen plan. Weiman, De Los Santos and Ogle could fill in other spots in the pen as well. But the Pirates have a handful of still fairly young arms with control remaining that need to prove themselves in 2021 to secure a long term role with the team.
Currently, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a handful of pitchers looking to bounceback. In 2018, Kyle Crick and Edgar Santana looked like two potential lon- term back of the bullpen arms. Then in 2019, Michael Feliz had a great second half of the season. However, Crick pitched horribly in 2019 and Santana underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of 2018. This caused the former to miss all of 2019. He was projected to bounceback in 2020, but a PED suspension kept him out for the entire season. Feliz only tossed just 1.2 innings in 2020.
Crick is going into his age-28 season and Santana will be 29 for the entirety of this upcoming season. They also have multiple years of control remaining so seeing one or both put up solid numbers in 2021 would be nice. Although Feliz only has two years of control remaining, a bounce back campaign from him could lead to a potential trade.
The Bucs also have a handful of breakout candidates. Geoff Hartlieb has shown the talent with an outstanding sinker/slider combo, but has yet to find the control. Clay Holmes, who was given the most money ever to a 9th round pick, had awful numbers in 2019 mainly due to his fastball. He’s coming back with a sinker/slider/curveball pitch mix, all of which could be above average offerings. Tyler Bashlor also has well above average stuff, but like Hartlieb, lacks the control.
There’s also a lot of fringe arms in the organization like Sam Howard, Sean Poppen, and recent waiver claim Duane Underwood Jr. that may get some innings throughout the season.
While most of these names are considered potentially elite-high-leverage arms like Oviedo, Bednar, Mears and Cederlind, most of them have the potential to be solid middle-inning relievers. Regardless of that, they should still get a shot with the 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates. Right now, the Bucs should be seeing what they have in arms like this and if they could potentially be part of the long-term plan.