As with the starting pitching, the group of relievers for the Pittsburgh Pirates had a pretty up-and-down season: decent one night, pretty awful the next. There were some surprises and plenty of disapppointments, which is what one would expect from a 100-loss team.
The team’s only All-Star did come from this position group in David Bednar, and he finished the season leading the team with 19 saves. The 28-year-old local boy got off to a blazing hot start this past season, racking up six-plus-out saves like they were going out of style, but things slowed down for The Renegade as the season wore on and he struggled with injuries.
He did finish with a 2.61 ERA, a 1.123 WHIP, and 69 strikouts in 51 innings to go along with a 3-4 record. He’ll be back next season as the bullpen anchor, though with the way the Buccos are run, it’s not out of the question that he’s dealt as well.
One of the big suprises this season for the Bucs was Wil Crowe. He made the switch to the bullpen from starter this year in an attempt to salvage his career, and he’s another guy that got off to a blazing start.
Also like Bednar, he slowed down considerably towards the end of the season, likely due to a high workload, but he showed enough that the 28-year-old former major question mark has a future in the pen, whether it’s Pittsburgh or elsewhere. His final line of a 6-10 record with a 4.38 ERA and 1.395 WHIP is far from sparkling, but make no mistake, Crowe was one of the team’s pleasant turnarounds for a big chunk of the year.
Dillon Peters also made a switch to the bullpen and was surprisingly effective at times in his new role, particularly to start the year. He also battled injuries, but the lefty compiled a 6-2 record with a 4.58 ERA and 1.322 WHIP in 39 innings. Again, not a sparkling line, but better than many expected with the full-time move to the bullpen.
Chase De Jong finished with the best bullpen line after Bednar, going 6-3 with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.144 WHIP, though it’s doubtful the 28-year-old figures in the team’s long-term plans.
The rest of the pen was a mish-mash of inconsistency. Duane Underwood Jr. could come out throwing heat and shut things down one night, then he could struggle with control and get shelled the next night. Same with Yerry De Los Santos. And did Heath Hembree, Manny Banuelos, Eric Stout or Anthony Banda inspire confidence in anyone?
Tyler Beede was also a disappointment after he was acquired off of waivers from the San Francisco Giants and likely won’t be back after officially hitting free agency. He was 2-5 with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP across 25 games after coming aboard.
The short of it is, however, how many of these guys figure in the long-term plans moving forward for the Buccos? Not many. Maybe not even Bednar if the Bucs can shop him for a good deal.
This is a position group that’s going to need a serious re-arranging in the offseason. Tell us below in the comments what you’d like to see happen with the bullpen in 2023.