2012 in Review: Bullpen

Closer Joel Hanrahan once again anchored the Bucco bullpen.

A consistent Bullpen was one of the strengths of the ballclub and paved the way to many victories.

The top five relievers in 2012:

Wins Losses ERA IP
Joel Hanrahan 5 2 2.72 59.2
Jared Hughes 2 2 2.85 75.2
Chris Resop 1 4 3.91 73.2
Jason Grilli 1 6 2.91 58.2
Tony Watson 5 2 3.38 53.1

Other pitchers to make relief appearances: Brad Lincoln, Juan Cruz, Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson, Chad Qualls, Doug Slaten, Evan Meek, Chris Leroux, Hisanori Takahashi, Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson, Rick van den Hurk, Daniel McCutchen.

For much of the year, the game was just about locked up anytime the bullpen took over.  Hammer and Grilli were lights-out, while Watson and Hughes really pitched well for how inexperienced they were.  Resop, although he got plenty of hate, really fit in well to the middle inning/multiple inning roles.  Other than that, the rest of the bullpen was pieced together for most of the year.  A handful of AAAA guys all had their moments, but ultimately couldn’t find a place in the ‘pen.  Some of this, however, could have been due to the mismanagement of the bullpen almost all year.  Looking forward to 2013, Hanrahan (possible trade) and Grilli (free agent) very well could leave, which would deplete the bullpen.  There is a solid group of young guys, with a few more in AAA hopefully on the way, but the bullpen is a bit of a question mark for next season.  Luckily for the Pirates, finding a group of relievers that make up a successful ‘pen isn’t too difficult, assuming your manager knows how to use them effectively.

MLBTR: Pirates Arbitration Eligibles

MLB Trade Rumors takes a look at the Pirates arbitration eligible players. The article is to-the-point and informative; here it is in full length:

“The Pirates are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series.  Matt Swartz’s salary projections are below.

Hanrahan remains an asset for the Pirates, though this year’s return to a big-time strikeout rate came with the unwanted side effects of a high walk rate and a lot of flyballs.  On the surface, the Bucs have a guy who’s converted 76 of 84 save opportunities the last two years with a 2.24 ERA and two All-Star game appearances.  Hanrahan will be entering his walk year.  With draft pick compensation for relievers mostly a thing of the past, GM Neal Huntington has to decide whether to trade Hanrahan or extend him in the neighborhood of $10MM per free agent year.

Elsewhere in the bullpen there’s Resop, who added groundballs this year at the expense of strikeouts.  The 29-year-old is hittable yet serviceable, and he’s not terribly expensive.

The Pirates have three arbitration eligible starting pitchers.  McDonald’s ERA sat at 2.37 after a July 7th win; through 110 innings it seemed as if he’d turned a corner.  He was brutal over his next 13 outings, with a 7.52 ERA in 61 frames.  It was an odd season, but McDonald is expected to begin next year back in the Pirates’ rotation.  Now is not the time to consider trading or extending him.

Morton had hip surgery a year ago, but was able to make his season debut in mid-April.  He lasted only nine starts before succumbing to Tommy John surgery.  He has to be considered a non-tender candidate, as otherwise the Pirates would have to pay him a projected $2.6MM in 2012 to pitch at most three months.  Huntington must decide the value of the chance to control Morton for the 2014 season.  The GM was noncommittal on the subject of Karstens, who had an injury-shortened 2012 as well.  Since Karstens finished the season healthy, he might be on firmer ground than Morton.

Jones needs a platoon partner, but he did hit .289/.332/.556 with 25 home runs in 434 plate appearances against right-handed pitching.  I think he’s safe, though this could be the last raise the Pirates are willing to give him.  Walker had another nice year, and the Pirates have flirted with extending the Pittsburgh native before.  In March, I suggested five years and $27MM for the Super Two second baseman.

The Pirates acquired Sanchez from the Marlins at the July trade deadline.  The 29-year-old was better for the Bucs, but still fell well short of the production of a typical starting first baseman.  There’s a decent chance he’s non-tendered.

If only Hanrahan, Jones, Karstens, McDonald, Walker, and Resop are retained, the Pirates would be looking at an estimated $22.3MM for six arbitration eligible players.

Matt Swartz’s arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors.  To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.

For more, visit MLB Trade Rumors.

Happy Birthday, Andrew McCutchen

Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen turns 26 today.

You can vote for McCutchen HERE for the Hank Aaron Award, which is given to the top offensive player in each league.

Cutch is pretty good at baseball:

Other players born on this day include Troy Tulowitzki, Pat Burrell, and Placido Polanco.

Other Bucs born in October:
Joel Hanrahan, Oct. 6th
Starling Marte, Oct. 9th
James McDonald, Oct. 19th
Yamaico Navarro, Oct. 31st

Go Bucs

National League cruises to shutout victory

The 83rd Midsummer Classic ended in an 8-0 blowout in favor of the National League All-Stars. Despite a powerhouse starting lineup, the American League failed to score a single run. The NL has now won for three consecutive years.

AL starter Justin Verlander struggled and gave up five runs on four hits while lasting just one inning. Pablo Sandoval proved he was worthy of the starting spot by hitting a bases-clearing triple off Verlander. Texas’ Matt Harrison gave up three runs on four hits in the fourth inning. The rest of the AL pitchers (Joe Nathan, David Price, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, Fernando Rodney) threw scoreless frames. On the National League side, Tony LaRussa used a combination of eleven different pitchers to complete the shutout.

The Pirates representatives, Andrew McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan, both saw action in the game. McCutchen entered the game in the fifth inning to play center field. He went 1 for 2 at the plate, including a line drive base hit off Chris Sale. Hanrahan came in during the ninth inning and faced just one batter- Kansas City’s own Billy Butler. With the Kauffman Stadium crowd on their feet, Hammer was a bit amped and let two pitches go to the backstop. However, he got Butler to strike out swinging on the 3-2 pitch.

Melky Cabrera won the game’s MVP award, as he went 2 for 3 with two RBI and two runs scored. His home run off Matt Harrison was the only homer of the game.

Win: Matt Cain
Loss: Justin Verlander


MLB All-Star Game Preview

What: 2012 MLB All-Star Game
When: Tuesday, July 10th at 8:00 pm
Where: Kauffman Stadium

The game will be televised on FOX; pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30.

National League Lineup
1. DH Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
2. CF Melky Cabrera, Giants
3. LF Ryan Braun, Brewers
4. 1B Joey Votto, Reds
5. RF Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
6. C Buster Posey, Giants
7. 3B Pablo Sandoval, Giants
8. 2B Dan Uggla, Braves
9. SS Rafael Furcal, Cardinals

American League Lineup
1. SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
2. 2B Robinson Cano, Yankees
3. LF Josh Hamilton, Rangers
4. RF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
5. 1B Prince Fielder, Tigers
6. 3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers
7. DH David Ortiz, Red Sox
8. C Mike Napoli, Rangers
9. CF Curtis Granderson, Yankees

Starting Pitchers

Matt Cain, Giants – Cain, who threw a perfect game on June 13th, gets the nod for the National League. Cain finished the first half with a 9-3 record and 2.62 ERA.
Justin Verlander, Tigers – Verlander, who makes his fifth All-Star appearance, will start for the American League. Verlander won the AL MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011.


– Tony LaRussa, N/A – LaRussa comes out of retirement to manage the NL.
– Ron Washington, Rangers – Washington will manage the AL for the second consecutive season.

What to watch for: Andrew McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan, reserves for the National League, will represent the Pirates.

Notes: Ron Cook says McCutchen “struck out” with his Sunday night tweets… There are five rookies in the game (Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Yu Darvish, Wade Miley, Ryan Cook) which is an ASG record… Prince Fielder became the second player to win the Home Run Derby more than once; Ken Griffey Jr. won three times… Carlos Ruiz will catch knuckleballer R.A. DickeyComplete AL and NL rosters.