The Pittsburgh Pirates had poor relief pitching this year, but it could be a better situation next season. David Bednar should return healthy after struggling some with inconsistent performance in the second half and missing a good chunk of time because of injury. They’ll also get Yerry De Los Santos and Colin Holderman back, two rookies who looked decent in their time with the Pirates before landing on the injured list.
Wil Crowe struggled mightily in September, which caused his numbers to inflate significantly. He had a great first half of the year, and he’ll look to return to that form next season. Hopefully, he can sustain it through a full year. Manny Banuelos has also likely secured a spot in the bullpen, given the team needs at least one lefty, and he wasn’t terrible for the Pirates.
The top rookie we should see in the bullpen is Tahnaj Thomas. From June through the end of the year, Thomas fully embraced the relief role, the hard-throwing right-hander had a 1.98 ERA, 2.70 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP. His strikeout rate sat at 28.5% while having just a 6.9% walk rate and .5 HR/9. One of Nick Dombkowski or Tyler Samaniego may also be part of the bullpen to give the Pirates a second left-handed option.
You could slot in a ton of guys in the long-relief role. JT Brubaker may move to the bullpen if he is forced out by one of the young arms. Johan Ovideo may also move to the pen for similar reasons. They could call-up Cody Bolton to fill this role, or they could bring Chase De Jong back next year.