Thus far in 2014, the Pittsburgh Pirates have suffered through plenty of injuries and ineffective play. One of the best bullpens from last season has disappointed through April and May, blowing 11 saves already after having only 15 all of last season. The ineffectiveness of starting pitchers to go deep in games, coupled with injuries to the back end of the bullpen, has equaled some toxic results. Things are looking to turn around, though, starting with Wandy Rodriguez being designated for assignment earlier in the week, and with Jason Grilli coming back off the DL.
The ineffectiveness of the starting rotation can be summed up easily with the amount of wins they have. Wins are not a tell-all stat for pitchers’ success, but having only six wins in 46 games from your starting rotation is unacceptable. Some help should be on the way in the form of Brandon Cumpton.
Cumpton has pitched extremely well in Triple-A Indianapolis thus far this season, going 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 40 innings. He cannot do much worse than Rodriguez, who had a 6.75 ERA in six starts so far this season. Another option could be Jeff Locke, an All-Star from last season.
In Grilli, the Pirates will be getting their regular closer back. He has not pitched since April 20 because of an oblique injury. Grilli looked as dominant as he did last season to start, with four saves and 1.50 ERA through six appearances.
But he blew the save in his next two outings, and subsequently ended up on the DL. It would not be surprising if that injury was the reason for his poor performance. That gave him three blown saves on the season, after having only two all of last season.
Mark Melancon had filled in admirably, just like he did last season when Grilli went down, but with Grilli back in the fold everything will fall in line for the Pirates. Clint Hurdle will be able to set his bullpen back up the way he had planned when the season started. It puts everyone back into the roles they had expected to be in during spring training, strengthening the bullpen as a whole and putting everyone back into roles they were comfortable with.
The Pirates are beginning to get healthy and making roster moves to get more production out of their players. Along with Grilli, Russell Martin came off the DL Thursday as well, giving the Pirates their leader behind the plate back. With Martin back behind the plate, the Pirates pitching staff as a whole should begin turning things around. It began tonight, as Charlie Morton got his first win of the season and is his first in his last 14 starts, to give the Pirates their third consecutive victory. Things are starting to turn around for the Buccos as they begin to climb their way back up the standings.