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Pirates All-Decade team (bullpen)

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Pittsburgh Pirates All-Decade team (2010-19).

The Pirates have had some strong bullpens throughout the decade. For a time, Neal Huntington had an incredible knack for finding cheap and unproven relievers and turning them into reliable studs. It is unquestionable that the bullpen was an integral part of the Pirates (short time) success over the past ten years. In 2013 and 2015 respectively, the Pirates had the ninth (4.2) and tenth (4.1) best bullpens in baseball according to fWAR. Overall, the team ranked 20th in fWAR (26.5) during the decade.

From the Mark the shark to grilled cheese time, to random flamethrowers like Arquimedes Caminero and John Holdzkom, this decade was filled with quirky, fun, and sometimes even talented relievers.

The bullpen

Mark Melancon: 2013-16 (6.7 fWAR) - Mark the shark. The best cutter since Mariano Rivera. Yeah, I said it (with literally no research). During his career, opponents have hit .256/.304/.339 against his cutter (okay, some research). As a Pirate, Melancon had a 1.80 ERA (2.27 FIP) in 260.1 innings pitched. He compiled 241 strikeouts opposed to 42 walks while allowing just nine home runs. From 2013-16, Melancon ranked fourth among all major league relief pitchers in fWAR. Like many Pirate closers this decade, it didn’t always look pretty. That being said, Melancon is the Pirates reliever of the decade.

Tony Watson: 2011-17 (3.4 fWAR) - Elementary indeed. Watson was the longest tenured Pirate relief pitcher this decade. For years, he was the well trusted eighth inning man. In 433 innings pitched (the most by a Pirate reliever this decade), Watson had a 2.68 ERA (3.59 FIP), 380 strikeouts and 121 walks. His low arm slot mechanics and mid-90s fastball were aesthetically pleasing to watch. He calm and poised demeanor helped put fans at ease during stressful moments. Watson was eventually traded to the Dodgers in 2017 for now top prospect, Oneil Cruz.

Joel Hanrahan: 2009-12 (3.0 fWAR) - Hanrahan was the first dominant closer for this Pirates this decade. He started the chain of successful closer trades when he was dealt for Melancon and friends during the winter of 2012. As a Pirate, Hanrahan had a 2.73 ERA (3.02 FIP) over 198 innings pitched. He struck out 228 batters and walked 78. Standing at 6’4” and 250 pounds, Hanrahan was a force on the mound. His high-90s fastball blew opposing hitters away. Hanrahan never saw team success during his time in Pittsburgh, but he was nonetheless a bright spot on those losing teams.

Jason Grilli: 2011-14 (2.8 fWAR) - IT’S GRILLED CHEESE TIME. I mean come on. Grilli’s closer entrance video was legendary. He’s made a real grilled cheese in the video. What’s better than that? Now I’m hungry. Anyways, for the most part, Grilli was solid as a Pirate. In 161.2 innings, he had a 3.01 ERA (2.97 FIP) with 222 strikeouts and 61 walks. Grilli was the original Neal Huntington guy picked up off the street turned stud. He didn’t pitch in 2010. In 2011, he had a 2.48 ERA in 32.2 innings. Grilli was quite the character. Let’s never forget his amazing book.

Evan Meek: 2008-12 (0.8 fWAR) - I’m not going to lie, Meek probably doesn’t deserve to be on this list. But I don’t care! Meek was an All-Star don’t you know? Yes, in 2010, when the Pirates won 57 games, Meek was the team’s lone All-Star. That is why he’s on this list. That season, he was actually really great. In 80 innings, he had a 2.14 ERA (3.45 FIP) with 70 strikeouts and 31 walks. As for the rest of the decade, Meek tossed just 32.2 non-2010 Pirate innings. Those innings were not as kind as he carried a 4.68 ERA (4.06 FIP). He was eventually granted free agency.

Chris Resop: 2010-12 (1.1 fWAR) - Another forgotten early decade Pirate. Let’s not forget. With the Pirates, Resop tossed 162.1 relief innings with a 3.88 ERA (3.70 FIP). He registered 149 strikeouts and 64 walks. To be honest, this list gets pretty thin after the first four guys. There just haven’t been many long tenured Pirate relievers over the decade for obvious reasons. Resop was fine though. He ate innings. Nowadays he’s a realtor.

Justin Wilson: 2012-14 (0.7 fWAR) - Wilson will act as the LOOGY of this bullpen. As a Pirate reliever, he tossed 138.1 innings with a 2.99 ERA (3.45 FIP). He struck 127 batters and walked 61. Obviously, walks have always been his main issue. Wilson was a semi-highly touted prospect with the Pirates. He was once apart of a no-hitter in the minors. Wilson has always had good stuff and has carved out a successful career roaming from team to team. In the winter of 2014, Wilson was traded to the Yankees for Francisco Cervelli.

Honorable Mentions

  • Juan Nicasio
  • Jared Hughes (he actually kind of stunk as a Pirate but had some great luck)
  • AJ Schugel
  • Jose Veras
  • Keone Kela
  • Brad Lincoln
  • Antonio Bastardo

Names that made me laugh for no reason (this is not a slight)

  • Vin Mazzaro
  • Rob Scahill
  • Stolmy Piementel
  • Kyle Lobstein
  • Radhames Liz
  • Chad Qualls
  • Kyle Farnsworth
  • Jeanmar Gomez
  • Mike Zagurski