By: Noah Wright
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
This year, The Pirates weakest link has been the bullpen. So far, the pen has blown enough holds/saves/leads, and turned close games into losing by 3+ runs, that they would be closer or in a WC, or even near a division spot, if it wasn’t for the bullpen. This bullpen struggle has been apparent the last few weeks. The Pirates could fix this problem though, for they still have some time, and enough of a farm system to strengthen a weak pen. Let's look at a few arms The Pirates could go after in the coming weeks up to the deadline.
1.) Kelvin Herrera
I had mentioned The Pirates as a possible target for The Pirates in an article on where Herrera will land. Also like I had said, The Royal’s closer has been downright dominant. In his 22.2 innings of work, Herrera has a .79 ERA, 2.01 FIP, and .706 WHIP. He has also not allowed a walk yet, and has only given up 1 homerun, and opponents only have a .242 BABIP against him. Herrera has also had a decent K% at 23.2%, his K/9 is down at a career low 7.5 K/9 rate. However, Herrera is a cheap option. He’s on the last year of his contract, and is only getting paid $7.937 million total this season.
2.) Shane Greene
The Tigers closer has been solid this year. On the season, Greene has a 3.49 ERA, 1.271 WHIP, a career high 10.8 K/9, 27.9 K%, and career lows in BB/9 (2.86) and BB% (7.4%) However, Greene does hold a 4.02 FIP, and it doesn’t help that The Pirates have less of a defensive WAR than The Tigers.
3.) Jared Hughes and/or David Hernandez
I put both of these pitchers here because both are on The Reds, and both are performing well. Hughes, who is a former Pirate, has done well for himself this year. In 32.1 innings, the righty has produced a 1.11 ERA, 2.96 FIP, and has only given up 2 homerun. He’s also currently has a career low, 2.2 BB/9 rate. As for Hernandez, he started the year on the DL, but has done well since coming off of it. In his 19.1 innings of work, Hernandez holds a 2.33 ERA, and a similar 2.65 FIP. He also carries a solid 8.4 K/9 rate, and hasn’t yet given up a homerun. Both are currently on cheap contracts (Hughes is getting paid $2.125 million and Hernandez is owed $2.5 million), and both could help the team.
4.) Brad Brach
The Orioles righty is on the last year of his contract, and owed $5.165 million. He’s done solid in his contract year. So far this season, Brach has a 3.13 ERA, and 3.07 FIP, with a healthy 9.8 K/9 and 23.6 K% in 23 innings. Though Branch has struggled with walks this year. He currently holds a 4.7 BB/9 and 11.3 walk%. His walk ratio is the highest it’s been since 2013. But he has limited batters to a .258 opponent average and .4 HR/9.