Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at Current Bullpen Options for 2023

Apr 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar (51) delivers against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar (51) delivers against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 14: Nick Mears #36 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on September 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 14: Nick Mears #36 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on September 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

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Nick Mears future is certainly up in the air. A former undrafted free agent, Mears rose through the rankings and had a phenomenal 2019 campaign that put him on prospect radars. After an injury-laden 2022 season, where Mears fits into the Pirate bullpen is a bit of a mystery.

Last season, Mears only pitched 30 innings in the minor leagues, struggling heavily. He allowed 16 earned runs, and while he did have a 0.6 HR/9 and 26.4% strikeout rate, he also dished out free passes like they were going out of stock. Mears let a whopping 14.7% of opponents reach via walk.

Command has been Mears’ downfall throughout his career. In 30.1 major league innings, Mears has a 4.75 ERA, 5.71 FIP, and 1.68 WHIP. He walked nearly 15% of opponents, but what is even worse is he averages 1.78 HR/9. Even worse is he doesn’t make that up with strikeouts. His major league strikeout rate is just 22.7%.

dark. Next. Bucs Pursuing Starting Pitching Help

It’s not that Mears doesn’t have decent stuff. He has a 96-98 MPH fastball with plus spin, along with a curveball and slider with above-average movement. But the issue is he doesn’t know where it is going half the time. There’s no such thing as too much pitching depth, and the Pittsburgh Pirates can afford to keep him around in an extremely low-leverage role and continue to try and improve his command, but with multiple top prospects on the horizon, the time is running out for Mears.

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