Pittsburgh Pirates: Projecting Bullpen Roles for the Start of 2024

Sep 2, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar (51) reacts
Sep 2, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher David Bednar (51) reacts / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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Middle relief - righty Colin Selby, lefty Jose Hernandez

In his first taste of MLB action, righty Colin Selby struggled out of the Pirate bullpen last season. In 24 innings pitched, Selby posted a 9.00 ERA, 4.80 FIP, 13.2% walk rate, and a 26.3% strikeout rate while allowing home runs at a 1.50 HR/9 rate.

Despite his struggles, Selby flashed his plus stuff. Selby has the stuff and tools needed to be a very good relief pitcher in the majors. Due to this, Selby should earn one of the final spots in the Pirate bullpen to start 2024 and begin the season pitching in middle relief.

Jose Hernandez started the 2023 season. After being acquired in the Rule 5 Draft, Hernandez quickly worked his way into having a key role in Derek Shelton's bullpen. Hernandez posted a 2.08 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 4.0% walk rate, 25.0% strikeout rate, and a 0.69 HR/9 through his first 26 innings pitched last season. Across his final 24.2 innings pitched, Hernandez struggled to an 8.03 ERA, 6.13 FIP, 14.6% walk rate, and a 2.55 HR/9. His strikeout rate, however, did spike to 30.1%.

There's a real possibility that Hernandez started to hit a wall with it being his first MLB season, as well as teams having the opportunity to adjust to what Hernandez does well. Having an offseason to work on building up his stamina and his body now being used to a full MLB season should both do Hernandez some good.

The 26-year-old lefty has the stuff to be a quality relief pitcher in the majors. Using him in a middle relief role, or to get important outs against left-handed hitters, is a role where Hernandez can find plenty of success. He should start the 2024 season in that role.