Building the perfect bullpen is one of the hardest things for a general manager to do. Relievers are hard to predict, even once you get an elite one. Some can go from one of the best in the league before crashing from one year to the next.
So putting together the perfect mix, not only to account for countless different scenarios, but also for the roller coaster of on the field play can be difficult. A lot of times it can make the difference between making the playoffs, or watching from home in the fall.
Ben Cherington, through a serious of moves, has put together a group of cast-off arms, thrown in one of the best closers in the game right now. He has created one of the best bullpens in the game.
Between three trades, two DFA/Trades, another waiver claim and a Rule 5 pick, the Pirates bullpen has posted the best ERA in the National League, and sixth overall.
They’ve also posted the eighth best xFIP, 11th in WAR, 13th in GB% and fourth in Left-On-Base rate (77.5%).
The last statistic is huge when it comes to the position, often coming in when a starter, or even another reliever, couldn’t quite get out of an inning. In the most clutch situations, the Pirates have been great at stranded runners on base when entering the game.
In fact, they have three players in the top-30 when it comes to stranding runners – Yohan Ramirez (6th), Robert Stephenson (11th), and Dauri Moreta (30th).
The latter, acquired in a trade for Kevin Newman, quickly made a name for himself coming out of the bullpen and stranding runners in the tightest of situations. Ramirez and Stephenson didn’t start the season with the Pirates, but have quickly left their mark in the bullpen.
Maybe the most impressive part of the bullpen’s success has been they have done it without their big free agent signing, Jarlin Garcia, who hasn’t pitched this season due to an injury.
In his place, Rule 5 pick Jose Hernandez has stepped in and stepped up as the lone lefty in the bullpen. Despite never pitching above Double-A, Hernandez has quickly shown he is more than your traditional developmental pick from the Rule 5.
They all paved the way for Colin Holderman and David Bednar, both acquired in traded and have been exceptional when called upon.
Putting together a strong bullpen isn’t easy, but Cherington pieced together a really good one that seems to be working on all cylinders right now. There is depth in the system as well, with Cody Bolton, Colin Selby, and Yerry De Los Santos in Indianapolis right now.
The strong bullpen, and depth is huge, as the rotation has been beaten up with injuries. Knowing that their leads are safe after leaving a game can help take some of the pressure off when on the mound.
Pittsburgh continues to try to find their footing after cooling off from their hot start, but even through their struggles, the bullpen has remained a strong point.
— Liover Peguero has five doubles this week alone against Bowie, picking up another on Thursday among his three overall hits on the night. Even before things starting to heat up for him, he was stringing together a lot of good at-bats, as well as walking more and striking out less compared to last year.
This was coming for a while, and if he could find a way to settle in at all playing shortstop, he could make things interesting for the Pirates at some point this season.
He also picked up his 11th stolen base. So even hitting a bunch of doubles hasn’t slowed him down from taking the extra base with his legs.
— For the first time in his professional career, Anthony Solometo completed seven full innings, but the biggest key was the zero walks. The strikeouts have been way up for him this year, but it’s cost it some of his control.
He’s been working on his changeup a little more this year, which has lead to some walks, but put it all together on Thursday.
Solometo has the kind of stuff coming at you from the left side which could easily make him a Top 100 prospect, especially now that the velocity is coming in higher than last year.
Daily Video Rundown
Hang in there, @masonmartin7, the power might come some day.
This one went 452 feet though. pic.twitter.com/cXmH8zBL4O
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) May 18, 2023
Mason Martin hit an absolute tank in Bowie on Thursday, a grand slam for Altoona.
Peggy plates 2 and we are ROLLING pic.twitter.com/sJkXdKZIVW
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) May 18, 2023
Speaking of Peguero hitting a double, he drove in a pair of runs on his two-bagger from Thursday.
Pirates Prospects Daily
By John Dreker
**Last night’s Prospect Watch is headlined by Termarr Johnson and Anthony Solometo.
**Here are some minor league moves from yesterday.
**New mock draft from Jonathan Mayo at MLB Pipeline
Song of the Day
Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.
Nice article, but very premature assessment of the Pirates bullpen. Underwood should not be on any major league roster, and Stephenson is being exposed the more he is used in high leverage situations. I expect that trend to continue with this group in general.
Underwood’s been throwing since Winter Ball, then WBC. Then Shelton keeps using him for multi-innings. No surprise to me that he’s breaking down and ineffective even in May. Really this bullpen would be better without DUJ and Crowe. Bolton should be the call-up.
That’s really no excuse, Underwood has always sucked. I think they finally told him he’s hurt.
To be nitpicky here: All bullpens are pieced together.
No team brings up 8 guys through their system as relievers. Most relievers didn’t land somewhere else as starters and then get traded like Pokemon cards at an elementary school lunch table until they land somewhere where they work out.
I was very critical of the bullpen before the season and even though I’m not completely sold on it (see Crowe the first couple of months of last year!) I’m beginning to come around.
Sure sign they’ll blow three leads in the next four games.
Don’t do it!
Sound advice…. The bullpen sucks, bunch of sinker slider duds……
Good write up. Watching a game with a lead through 5 & actually feeling good is something we haven’t felt since Neal era. To BC’s credit, the trades have been strong, the R5 pick looks brilliant ,and the correct personnel decisions largely were made out of the Spring , including having Yohan work out his kinks in Indy – and they were not stubborn on sticking with a struggling DeJong. Only criticism is that I think we have all seen enough body of work on Underwood in high leverage situation to conclude that there are better options . They probably would have given Crowe way too long a leash as well if he weren’t injured. This year – for once – there are too many good options in Indy to stick with struggling relievers despite occasional flashes of effectiveness
Solos velo 94-95?
That’s what I’ve been told. Not sure as of late, but one stream also mentions multiple times in the 92-93 range. But I’ve been told it’s been higher at times.
How soon should Peguero be sent to Indy? His hitting is coming around, but how is his fielding?
the fielding, at least at shortstop, is still ummm, not great. He’s just struggling to make that throw to first, even though he has the range and arm to do it.
I’m cool with being patient with him because if he figures that part of it out, we are talking about a top 100 prospect once again. I’m just not sure if/when that’s going to happen.
Defense has been nothing short of bad unfortunately
Should we have expected anything less with Cruz down and everyone else shuffling and mostly out of place.