The Pittsburgh Pirates have been connected to a lot of relievers, and a lot of left-handed relievers. We’ve heard them connected to Andrew Miller of the Red Sox, Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, and a loose connection to Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. Jon Morosi says that the team continues to look for lefty relievers.
Pirates continuing to look for a left-handed reliever, sources say.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 29, 2014
This is the first time that we’ve specifically heard they’re looking for left-handers. Previously it was just assumed that was their approach, due to all of the left-handers who were popping up in the rumors.
There’s two ways you could look at this. One is that they might just want three left-handers in the bullpen, especially because Tony Watson is now the set-up man, and isn’t used as a left-hander normally would be used in middle relief. The other way is that they might be looking to replace Justin Wilson, who is having a down year. Wilson has a 4.62 ERA, and while his 4.13 xFIP suggests that should get better, they might not want to wait it out with him this year. Of course, they’re doing the exact same thing with Ernesto Frieri, so that might not be the case.
The Pirates do have Andy Oliver in Triple-A, who has been dominant since taking over as the Indianapolis closer. He has a 1.64 ERA in 22 innings since the start of June, with a 25:10 K/BB ratio, and just 11 hits allowed. However, if they don’t turn to Oliver, it’s understandable. His walks are down from earlier in the year, and from previous experiences in Triple-A, but it’s a small sample size, and he’s still walking a batter every other inning. The fact that he’s not giving up hits helps his cause, but will that continue in the majors? This is the same scenario as Justin Wilson when he was coming up, and because of the control issues, I think Oliver’s upside would be Wilson, with no guarantee that you get the good version of Wilson from last year. So it makes sense that they would be looking beyond their internal option in Triple-A.