It has not taken long for reliever Dauri Moreta to begin to make an impact coming out of the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen
Compared to recent years, the Pittsburgh Pirates were busier than usual this past offseason. From signing Rich Hill and Carlos Santana, trading for Ji-Man Choi, and re-signing Andrew McCutchen, it was a busy offseaosn for the Pirates.
One move the team made that flew under the radar, however, was the Kevin Newman trade. This trade saw the Pirates send the middle infielder to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for reliever Dauri Moreta. Upon being acquired, it appeared that Moreta would start the 2023 season at Triple-A Indianapolis.
This outlook for Moreta's 2023 season would change in spring training. Moreta threw the ball extremely well leading to great results this spring. Combine this with bullpen injuries that the Pirates suffered and this opened the door for Moreta to start the season in the majors.
Moreta had struggled out of the Cincinnati bullpen the past two seasons. That said, he flashed good things with the Reds as well. Moreta has always had the plus stuff to be a good major league reliever and he pitched very well after being re-called to the majors in mid-June last season.
So far this season Moreta has looked like a completely different pitcher. From the get go this season he has been trusted in big situations. With the game tied at 4 and the Reds having a runner on third with two outs in the 5th inning on Opening Day, Derek Shelton decided to throw Moreta into the fire. Although he walked two batters, Moreta responded with a strikeout to end the innng and strand the runner. He then struck out two batters in the 6th inning with the game still tied before being lifted.
Monday night in Boston he took the ball with two outs in the bottom of the 5th, two Red Sox runners on base and the Pirates leading 7-5. Moreta would strikeout Connor Wong to end the inning. Shelton once again trusted Moreta in a high-leverage situation in Tuesday night's victory, and Moreta once again responded. This time he recorded an inning ending strikeout of RBI machine Adam Duvall with two runners on base in the 6th inning and the Pirates leading 3-1. Moreta also got two outs in the 7th inning before his night ended.
"Big Bank" as he has already been dubbed by his teammates, Moreta appears to have that "it" factor on the mound. He has already developed his own hand gestures and celebration for when gets a big out to end and inning or escape a jam.
Moreta brings a level of energy and swag to the Pittsburgh Pirates that the team has been sorely lacking in recent season. Through 2.1 innings pitched this season, Moreta has allowed a hit, walked three batters, and struck out five. All of his outings have come in high-leverage situations.
His teammate have been seen celebrating with him in the dugout as Moreta leads the energy in the dugout. Shelton commented on the energy Moreta brings following Tuesday night's victory, and Moreta appears to be loving it in Pittsburgh. "I love to play on this team. I love this team. I can't explain it right now. The adrenaline is different," Moreta told reporters on Tuesday night.
There is a long way to go for Moreta, it's been a small sample size and he still has a lot to prove. However, thus far, he appears to be bringing that "it" factor to the Pirate bullpen. He has also been a reliable high-leverage arm thus far. Hopefully, this is the start of a Moreta breakout season.