Many people criticized the Pittsburgh Pirates for not at least trading for a relief pitcher at the trade deadline. That criticism continued Tuesday night when the Pirates’ bullpen blew yet another lead late in the game. It has come to a point where it is obvious that a change is needed in the bullpen, and one suggestion would be to use different pitchers in different situations.
The relievers all seem to have a set role with the Pirates. Mark Melancon is the closer, Tony Watson is the setup man, Justin Wilson pitches the seventh inning, Jeanmar Gomez and Jared Hughes are the middle-inning relievers, Ernesto Frieri comes in for mop-up duty, and Stolmy Pimentel is the long reliever. Some of these players just are not fulfilling their roles.
Wilson is walking too many players to be a late-inning reliever, and Gomez is not doing well in higher-leverage situations. The key to fixing the bullpen could be to remove these players from their roles and switch them with someone else.
The Pirates should remove Wilson from his role insert Pimentel in his spot. This is a bit odd because Pimentel is a long reliever, but he has the stuff to be an effective late-inning option. His fastball is in the upper-90s and he has a devastating slider. He also has a nice curveball he can break off in the right situation. Pimentel is also fresh because he has only pitched on average two times per month. He is the perfect option to pitch in the late innings down the stretch this season.
As for replacing Gomez, it requires using a pitcher that is not on the roster. The Pirates have Vin Mazzaro in triple-A, and he was a perfect middle reliever for the team last season. With the Pirates’ woes in the bullpen, it seems like an easy decision to call him up if the disappointing Frieri was let go.
If the Pirates want to fix their bullpen problem, they need to stop using the same pitchers in the same situations they are failing in. They need to get creative and try different players in different roles, or they are going to fall out of contention quickly.