Three things the Pittsburgh Pirates can do to improve the bullpen

The Pittsburgh Pirates could immediate improve the bullpen by doing these three things asap.
Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Angels
Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Angels / Michael Owens/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has been an unexpected weakness, at least to start the season. This was supposed to be the best part of the team, yet so far, they've blown at least one lead in the 6th inning or later in every series except for Boston. The season is still young and there's time to course correct, but this is far from the start many were expecting from this group that looked like it could be the next Shark Tank.

As we wind down April, there are some clear improvements the Pirates could make. Some are simple fixes that could add some significant improvements to glaring issues. As of right now, there are three things I identified as things the Pirates could do right now to make the bullpen much better than it currently is.

Pirates Activate Ryan Borucki, Let Him Take Over For Aroldis Chapman (for now)

Ryan Borucki was one of the Pirates' most unexpected heroes in 2023. A minor league signee, Borucki was once a promising young starter for the Toronto Blue Jays. However, injuries plagued him for several years after his 2018 rookie season. The minor league flier the Pirates took on Borucki paid dividends, as he pitched 40.1 innings, working to a 2.45 ERA, 3.50 FIP, and 0.74 WHIP. While Borucki's 21.7% strikeout rate was only about league average, he handed out a mere four free passes for a 2.6% walk rate. On top of that, he was outstanding at limiting hard contact with an 85.7 MPH exit velocity and 6.3% barrel rate.

Borucki has not pitched much in 2024 yet. He has been sidelined by a tricep injury and has been on the IL since early April. There was a reported setback on April 20th, but it didn't seem to be significant and was expected to ramp back up in the following days. We might still see Borucki activated before the end of April.

Once Borucki is activated, let him become the high-leverage lefty for now. So far this year, the Pirates have turned to Aroldis Chapman for that role. The veteran flamethrower started the year off great with eight straight appearances while not allowing an earned run. However, since then, he's been scored on for six earned runs over his previous four outings. What's more worrying is that he's allowed a walk in five of his last six appearances. More often than not, these walks have come back to bite Chapman.

I'm not saying give up on Chapman. But if Borucki comes off the IL within the next week, it gives him and the Pirates the opportunity to take a step back and relax for a moment. Borucki more than held his own in late and close games in 2023. He pitched into the 7th inning or later in his last ten appearances in '23, eight of which were within three runs. He went scoreless in all those appearances and also ended his season with 16 straight scoreless innings.