Keep the Good Times Rolling in the Bullpen
Quietly, the Pittsburgh Pirates have one of the better bullpens in the league this year, boasting a surprising 3.88 ERA and 3.80 FIP. One great bullpen statistic that is commonly overlooked is losses. If players in your bullpen are accumulating losses, that means they are throwing away great starts from starting pitchers and are giving away games that the team has already established a lead in. The Pirate bullpen has an astounding 5 losses over 51 games, good for second in the MLB.
Having a solid bullpen is extremely important for any team that is looking to rebuild. Having reliable arms in the late innings allow for managers to limit young starting pitching arms that are still developing. Great bullpen arms also demand premier prices at the trade deadline as competing teams look to get that small extra edge as they enter a playoff race.
Some stellar players so far in the pen have included Chris Stratton, Richard Rodriguez, Clay Holmes, Duane Underwood Jr., David Bednar, Kyle Crick, and Sam Howard. All of these pitchers have sub-4.00 ERAs and are showing fantastic strikeout to walk ratios. Many of these players have also been extremely durable as five of those seven players have pitched 20+ innings in 2021.
All seven pitchers listed above are signed through at least 2024 with the Pirates. This means that Ben Cherington has fantastic flexibility with the current bullpen. If he believe that he can flip one or two of these pitchers at the trade deadline, he should be able to get a good return as the receiving team will be getting a pitcher with multiple years of control remaining. If Cherington wants to hold on to any of these pitchers through the rebuild, most of them should be around the next time the Pirates are projected to compete in the NL Central.