Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bullpen Continues to Impress in Spring Training
The magical 2013 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates was a product of a very deep organization getting the most out of every player who was given a chance. The Pirates used 12 starting pitchers last season, and they withstood injuries to their star left fielder, Starling Marte, and second baseman, Neil Walker. One thing that was always there when needed was the Pirates’ bullpen, or the “Shark Tank.”
The bullpen wasn’t even healthy the entire season. Possibly the most important reliever for the Pirates in the past two years, Jason Grilli, missed a lot of time in the second half of the season due to injury. As the Pirates did all year in 2013, they were able to place Mark Melancon in the closer role and move on without any real issues.
Coming into 2014, their bullpen is completely healthy again and ready to dominate in the upcoming season. Melancon and Grilli, along with the Pirates’ pair of hard-throwing lefties, Justin Wilson and Tony Watson, should once again be one of the best bullpens in baseball.
Even though the Pirates should feel very good about their relievers, that certainly doesn’t mean everything is great for the Shark Tank. Ever since Grilli’s injury last season, he hasn’t quite had the velocity that he did prior to the injury. It hasn’t necessarily hurt his performance all that much, but it definitely should be noted. For this reason, I felt that Grilli should have been put on the trading block this offseason. I feel that any and every reliever should be available for trade, for the right price, of course. For example, the Pirates have a need at first base and they have excellent depth in the bullpen; it would be great for the team to work out a trade for a first baseman using one of their relievers.