Pirates Lose 4-2 to Brewers, Bullpen Falters Late

8-4-21 – By Gary Morgan @garymo2007 on Twitter

Bad choices or no choices?

That’s really the tale of the Pirates bullpen lately. It’s frustrating as hell, but as long as the Pirates are going to use their starters more like openers, either to protect their arms or keep them from seeing a lineup more than twice it’s going to wind up being the single biggest reason for losses most nights.

Let’s start with the good. Steven Brault was good, Hoy Park and Bryan Reynolds were good.

The Pirates had themselves sitting on a 2-1 lead in the 7th after Brault combined with Cody Ponce to only surrender one run.

David Bednar, Duane Underwood Jr. and Chris Stratton were all officially-unofficially not available today after throwing significant innings last night. So Derek Shelton went with Kyle Keller, who did what he often does, went and got two outs, looked good doing it too.

Then just like Monday night, he got a tight sphincter trying to get the last out. Walked a batter, gave up a single and Shelton had seen enough. The Brewers went with lefty Rowdy Tellez and the Pirates countered with Chasen Shreve.

Kyle Keller has brutal numbers against lefties, Shreve has very good numbers against them. So of course, 3 run homerun to make it 4-2 Brewers.

I saw a chorus of “Shelton doesn’t know what he’s doing” tweets, but honestly, I’m not sure what he could have done differently.

You want to think back to the days when Teke could go 7 games a week but those days just aren’t coming back.

This bullpen that was a strength early on, is now a weakness. Hard to blame this on trades, they only moved one piece you could even pretend was valuable.

I’d blame injury but Sam Howard is the only one I really want back.

Maybe you can get mad about DFAs of Crick, Hartlieb, Feliz, but two of those three weren’t getting it done and right or wrong (personally think wrong) they just didn’t like Hartlieb enough to let him pitch much.

Now they have a hodgepodge of pitchers. Ponce who is still really prepared to be a starter, Duane Underwood who has been a batting practice hitter really for a month now. Luis Oviedo who they won’t use and well you’ve seen him pitch, how can you disagree? Chasen Shreve who is ok at best. Kyle Keller a never was who I’ll be shocked if he ever is. Shea Spitzbarth a rookie who they picked up in the AAA portion of the rule five draft (too early to classify yet but I have high hopes). Nick Mears, a rookie who has great stuff but certainly shouldn’t be counted on for leverage as of right now. Anthony Banda will be here soon, I don’t expect much based on what I’ve seen from him in the past.

Bednar is good. Stratton is good.

That my friends is not a good bullpen. And while I understand the frustration, you can’t pin this on Shelton. Find another avenue, it shouldn’t be that hard.

Sometimes I wish there was more to the story, but this bullpen just isn’t going to help you preserve too many 2-1 leads.

Devin Williams set down the Pirates in the 9th and game.

4-2 Brewers.

On to Cincinnati tomorrow as Wil Crowe takes the mound to face Sonny Gray

News & Notes

  • Ke’Bryan Hayes was a late sub in this game as part of a double switch. I’ve seen a ton of chatter lately as people scramble for excuses for how he’s performed as of late. It’s not his wrist. Think of what you’re saying. You’re saying the Pirates have taken someone they really value and asked him in a meaningless season mind you, to fight through an injury. Think even further, hey have options to play 3B like Castro or Difo, hell even Evans if need be. Reality is, he’s simply been scouted, and combined with coming back to earth (AKA what his minor league history said in the first place). Look, he’s going to be a very good baseball player, but that first month did him no favors as far as healthy expectations. The truth somewhere in the middle lies.
  • Steven Brault looked good today. Not spectacular, but Brault rarely is spectacular. He looked like himself. Getting ground balls, throwing strikes and quickly working through his innings. Good to have a competent experienced pitcher back in the mix.
  • Hoy Park looked really good again today. Two more hits including a double.
  • Reynolds was 2 for 2 with 2 walks. I mean what more can you say?
  • I know I just ripped the bullpen, but Cody Ponce was great. 2 IP, 3 Ks no hits. Really welcome and needed.
  • Miguel Yajure stars a rehab assignment in Bradenton this week.
  • Sam Howard is throwing from 120 feet.
  • Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras are both starting to throw. Roansy is said to be closer and the plan is to have both of them back before the end of the season.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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