FanPost

How Should the Pirates Use Brendan Donnelly?

Brendan Donnelly's coming back in a day or two, but it's not at all clear how the Pirates should deploy his services. He is our nominal setup man, but in practice he's no higher than fourth on our depth chart, and arguably as low as sixth.

He was only scored on in two outings of eleven, and the worse of those was during the 20-0 drubbing, which I think we have to treat as an outlier for pretty much everyone involved. But even when you except that, his walk rate is exorbitant, outstripping his excellent strikeout rate. He looked pretty bad in limited usage at Cleveland in '08, but otherwise he's never had a problem with walks; it's hard to know what to make of his control issues to date, but I think you have to presume at least some regression - and maybe a lot of regression.

I think we all agree that it's not a bad thing that our actually-best relievers (Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan) are being used in high leverage situations early while an unsteady Octavio Dotel has been treated as a standard closer (meaning that he's actually not that exposed). But it's not clear where that leaves Donnelly - for example, does he come into last night's game? I'd hope not, yet that's the standard thing to do (at least until Donnelly completely implodes).

I assume that the answer is to find some low-leverage seventh and eighth inning spots for him for at least his first couple appearances, given that he's skipping rehab. And if he looks good, killing the walks, then you essentially have 3 setup guys and you mix and match depending on who's tired. But what if he's in between - a BB rate under 10/9, but above, say, 4/9? Do we treat him as a mop-up guy? Save him for low-leverage setup situations? Relegate him to the seventh and save the eighth for Meek and Hanrahan? Is there another good option?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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