Saturday, September 26, 2009

Buc Bullpen Returns To Normal

Well, yesterday's victory was a tonic for the Pirates. Unfortunately, burning out the bullpen came back to bite the Bucs tonight.

In a pretty well played game, Pittsburgh went ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh when Luis Cruz and Andrew McCutchen delivered two-out RBI knocks.

But since Jesse Chavez pitched a pair of frames last night and Joel Hanrahan's elbow is apparently still achy, JR started the eighth with Denny Baustista. A walk, strikeout, and single later, he tapped his left arm to match up Phil Dumatrait with James Loney. He walked him to juice the sacks.

In jogged Steve Jackson, who walked in a pair of runs and gave up a two-run single to Jim Thome. Way to kill a rally, bullpen.

We don't know if JR should have done anything different Friday night; hindsight is 20-20. He got the win, and the team was in desperate need of one.

But if he'd have gotten an extra inning out of Jeff Karstens, or brought in Virgil Vasquez or Dumatrait in the sixth (shaky choices, we admit), or worked Jackson two innings instead of Chavez, he might have had something left for the late innings this evening.

But he didn't, and the Bucs fell again, 8-4. The spirit is willing, but the talent is weak.

Russell can't be held to the fire for this one, though. It's not his fault that Hanrahan is hurt, or that Evan Meek, Jose Ascanio, and Tyler Yates are on the DL, or that Jesse Chavez has the most appearances of any rookie, or that Sean Burnett and John Grabow are plying their trade in other cities or that Ross Ohlendorf is shut down and they're still using a six-man rotation.

Management dealt him a dead man's hand, and it showed again tonight.


WilliamJPellas said...

Ironic, is it not, that the one thing Dave Littlefield did consistently well was build a bullpen, and yet it's the bullpen that's failed the Pirates repeatedly over most of Neil Huntington's tenure.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, it is. I don't think the bullpen is in terrible shape as much as it's ravaged by injuries. Meek in particular was showing signs of becoming a decent arm, ditto for Chavez, who unfortunately has had to cover the late inning bridge by himself this month and is wearing down, probably mentally more than physically.

Still, leaving JR with no lefty, which he likes to use, was fairly criminal, and we can't help but think they're babying Ascanio and Hanrahan.

That may be a good long-term move, but we don't really don't put any faith in their injury reports. Hey, they both may end up with surgery, like so many other "tweaked" guys, or they just may be part of the suit's obsession to pamper arms.

At any rate, they really gave JR the short shrift with the collection he's trying to close down the season with.