Pittsburgh Pirates Squander Opportunity to Sweep Four-Game Series

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 14: Josh VanMeter #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts during the eleventh inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on July 14, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 14: Josh VanMeter #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts during the eleventh inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on July 14, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Jul 13, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar (99) scores the game winning run on a wild pitch by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar (51) in the tenth inning at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 13, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar (99) scores the game winning run on a wild pitch by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar (51) in the tenth inning at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Usually reliable back end of the bullpen blows back-to-back saves

Through the first two games of the series the bullpen was terrific for the Pirates. Chase De Jong and Yerry De Los Santos combined to pitched 2 scoreless innings in relief of Keller in game one. Game two was a bullpen game that saw Pirate relievers allow just 2 runs in 9 innings.

Game three, things started to go sideways for the bullpen. Duane Underwood Jr. issued a walk and hit a pair of batters while allowing 2 runs in the 8th inning. After De Los Santos pitched a scoreless 9th inning to force extra innings, David Bednar got shelled in the 10th inning. Bednar walked a batter, allowed three hits that were all 96+ MPH off the bat, and the lone swing-and-miss he generated came on a wild pitch that allowed the winning run to score from third base.

When Thompson exited the series finale the Pirates were trialing 1-0. With the help of De Jong pitching 1.1 scoreless innings of relief, the Pirates were able to tie the game at 1. After the Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the 11th inning, Derek Shelton went to Wil Crowe to close the game out. Well, Crowe allowed a single, hit a batter, and then surrendered a walk off triple.

With better performance from the back end of the Pirate bullpen in games three and four they would have at least won the series, if not swept it. While Underwood Jr., Bednar, and Crowe have all had strong seasons, Bednar and Crowe both have been used a lot for mid-July. Especially Bednar having multiple 30+ pitch outings and a 50+ pitch outing all within a few weeks of each other.

It is very possible that Shelton’s over use of Bednar and Crowe is starting to catch up to them. Especially Bednar who has been battling a back issue and has not looked right for a few weeks. Some of this blame also falls on Ben Cherington for not giving Shelton more high leverage arms in his bullpen. Regardless, the All-Star Break should do the bullpen some good.