Bullpen depth is an issue, Wil Crowe should not be pitching in high-leverage situations
These two takeaways go together, so we'll put them together. So far this season the Pirate bullpen has far exceeded expectations. However, there are serious issues with the bullpen's depth and these depth issues are starting to shine.
Duane Underwood Jr. and Colin Holderman had to pitch in three of the four games in the series. This will likely render them unavailable for Monday night's game in Colorado. Lack of depth options also put Derek Shelton in a difficult position on Sunday.
With the Pirates leading 4-3 entering the bottom of the 10th inning, Shelton had three options to try and hold the lead. Wil Crowe, Yohan Ramirez who was just promoted on Sunday, or Rule 5 Draft rookie Jose Hernandez. Personally, due to how well he has pitched this season Hernandez would have been my choice. That said, it's understandable why Shelton went with Crowe.
Well, in what was definitely predictable, Crowe struggled. He issued a one out walk before allowing a gmae-tying ground rule double. After getting Jordan Walker to strikeout looking, Tommy Edman singled on a ground ball to center field to end the game.
Led by Bednar, Holderman, and Dauri Mortea, the back end of the Pirate bullpen appears to be pretty strong. Underwood Jr. also appears to be turning a corner and finding more consistency. However, after this group, the bullpen goes off a cliff. Ben Cherington failing to add more bullpen help this past offseason is already starting to bite this team.
As for Crowe, the idea of using him in high-leverage situations is one that needs to be scrapped immediately. Please, for the love of God, quit doing it. Crowe struggled in high-leverage situations last season and failed in his first high-leverage situation this season.
Last week, I wrote how it appeared that Shelton was moving away from using Crowe in high-leverage situations. His hands were somewhat tied on Sunday, but we saw why he had been moving away from doing this.
In his MLB career Crowe owns a 10.7% walk rate, just a 13.4% strikeout rate, a 2.22 HR/9, .340 opponent batting average against, and an opposing slugging percentage of .596 in high-leverage situations. Sunday afternoon, he struggled again in a high-leverage situation allowing 2 runs on two hits and two walks. It's time for Crowe pitching in high-leverage situations to end.