Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Pittsburgh Pirates Looking for Relief from Their Bullpen

The just-completed, pivotal 10-game stretch began and ended the same way for the Pittsburgh Pirates –– with no one having an answer for the faltering bullpen.



It was a 10-game stretch of schedule that loomed as at worst definitive and at the very least revealing.

It wound up providing the snapshot of the Pirates’ season.

June 21 at Milwaukee.

Trevor Williams was still on the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning after having allowed one run on four hits through six. Williams was still battling, but he’d also walked two and struck out seven and was about out of gas.

Between Williams allowing a single to Keon Braxton and a double to Orlando Arcia to open the bottom of the seventh, hits that immediately threatened the 3-1 lead the Pirates were desperately trying to protect, the ROOT Sports broadcast cut to a shot of the Pirates’ bullpen.

Right-hander Daniel Hudson and left-hander Tony Watson were warming up.

And there you have it.

In the event you had been consumed by the quest for the Stanley Cup for the previous two months and hadn’t been paying very much attention, there, in a nutshell, was the story of the 2017 Pirates.

Can you imagine manager Clint Hurdle’s dilemma right about then?

Watson and Hudson would eventually enter the game in the seventh. The Brewers would eventually score runs with both of them delivering pitches in the inning, with the two runs that would give Milwaukee a 4-3 lead on the way to a 4-3 victory coming on yet another home run allowed by yet another reliever (Hudson this time, again).

Hudson from the right.

Watson from the left.

A failed set-up man and a failed closer.

Both turning high leverage into high anxiety, depending upon whether the gasoline needed to be applied to the fire from the left or the right.

That June Meltdown in Milwaukee was in the middle of the aforementioned, potentially definitive 10-game stretch against the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals, 10 games against division foes in a division where a hot streak at the right time had a chance to be a season-altering development.

But that 10-game stretch had opened with Juan Nicasio requiring all of two batters to blow a save in the ninth inning in what became a 9-5 loss to the Cubs on June 16.

And it ended on Sunday night in St. Louis, when a 4-2 lead in the sixth degenerated into an 8-4 loss to the Cardinals. Hurdle turned to Watson with a one-run lead, Yadier Molina on second and nobody out after Chad Kuhl had failed to record an out in a sixth inning for what ESPN announced was a Major League record-tying 12th consecutive start.

Any doubt about how that was going to turn out by now?

The Bucs ended up 5-5 on that potentially definitive 10-game stretch, not bad enough to bury them in a division seemingly no one wants to win but not good enough, either.

Their 35-41 record through 76 games heading into Tuesday night’s hosting of Tampa Bay is likewise discouraging.

The bullpen has de-evolved into Felipe Rivero registering a save that requires more than three outs to record or bust, and that’s not a formula for sustainable success, not one that’s going to achieve the type of winning streak the Pirates are going to need to alter the equation, even in a bad division.

This season isn’t being defined by Starling Marte’s suspension or Jung Ho Kang’s inability to gain entry into the country.

There just aren’t enough arms.

And that’s a problem even pitching coach Ray Searage’s mystical whispering into ears hasn’t been able to fix.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Battle of The Hollywood

Dormont's historic Hollywood Theater faces an uncertain future after news of a potential sale prompted an immediate public furor.

Three Rivers Champion: Cecile Springer

A self-proclaimed “loudmouth,” Springer says her favorite part of volunteering is meeting other people and persuading them to do what she wants them to do.

Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Reviews of "Phantom Thread," "Call Me By Your Name," "Den of Thieves" and new animated releases, plus local movie news and notes.

Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

What is Pittsburgh's best breakfast joint? Dive bar? Yoga studio? Local singer? Meteorologist? It's time to nominate your local favorites in multiple categories.

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Restaurant Review: or, The Whale

The Downtown restaurant is a captivating, if costly, catch.

Celebrating 5 Pittsburghers Who Built Careers Behind the Bar

Pittsburgh is a city that celebrates its neighborhood bars. In some of those spots, second- and third-generation regulars are pulling up their stools to be served by someone who started pouring drinks decades ago.

Second Chances: Crossroads in the Kitchen

People working to overcome substance abuse problems and ex-offenders discover a welcoming environment in restaurant kitchens.

How to Pamper Yourself in Pittsburgh

Looking to beat the winter doldrums? We round up the best places and experiences for a little personal indulgence.

Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

The Tongdee family now operates Burgh Thai in Verona.

The Growing Popularity of Shooting a Clay Pigeon

Skeet shooting is taking off as a favored western Pennsylvania hobby.

Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Until they solve it, the Steelers are more of a Fantasy League team than they are a Super Bowl team.

New series ‘$1’ to be filmed in Pittsburgh

The mystery thriller is latest to cash in on the city’s filming opportunities.

Andrew McCutchen: Thanks for the Memories

It's hard to overemphasize McCutchen's impact on the Pirates and its fan base.

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

A lot of grooms-to-be propose on Mt. Washington. Not many decorate beforehand.