There are a lot of expectations on the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. The team traded their closer Joel Hanrahan away in the off-season and is going to go with Jason Grilli, who has never been a closer before in his career. This could turn into a move that haunts Pittsburgh in 2013 if Grilli can’t get the job done and doesn’t lead the Pirates towards a playoff berth.
Grilli has five career saves over his ten-year MLB career and while three of those have come in the last two seasons, it was a curious step for the Pirates to make this move.
There are other proven closers that are still free agents in Brian Wilson and Jose Valverde, but the Pirates obviously like what Grilli can do. I also think that neither Wilson nor Valverde are ready to go again in that role so going with Grilli was a necessary step. He has the talent to do the job and has had two great seasons in a row so it is something that could work out in the end.
Pittsburgh has a real chance to make the playoffs in 2013 in a weak National League Central division and could find themselves winning 85-88 games. The Pirates hasn’t been over the .500 mark in over 20 years, so just getting there would be a great step in itself.
I don’t fully believe in Grilli yet until he can prove he is a closer who can get the job done day in and day out, and the team should still be looking for another reliever just in case this doesn’t work.