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Bullpen of the Week: Pirates

Relievers blank Reds with 13 K's during 3-game sweep
MLB.com

The Pirates have been on a tear this month, riding a nine-game win streak that started before the All-Star break. The bullpen's stellar performance during a three-game sweep of the Reds helped Pittsburgh's relief corps earn MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford honors for the games played from July 19-22.

This week accounts for games played since Thursday, as teams were off due to the All-Star break. Only the Cardinals and Cubs played Thursday, with the rest of the league competing in three-game series that began Friday and ended Sunday.

The Pirates have been on a tear this month, riding a nine-game win streak that started before the All-Star break. The bullpen's stellar performance during a three-game sweep of the Reds helped Pittsburgh's relief corps earn MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford honors for the games played from July 19-22.

This week accounts for games played since Thursday, as teams were off due to the All-Star break. Only the Cardinals and Cubs played Thursday, with the rest of the league competing in three-game series that began Friday and ended Sunday.

As part of The Hartford Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring the MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.

Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:

• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save

The Pirates' bullpen tallied 46.5 points, edging out the Mariners' 44.5 points. Pittsburgh's relievers shut out the Reds across 8 2/3 innings. They surrendered six hits and issued zero walks, while notching 13 strikeouts. Seattle's bullpen narrowly missed out, allowing just one run and a walk across 8 1/3 innings.

After the sweep, the Pirates improved to 51-49.

The unexpected: Right-hander Kyle Crick extended his scoreless streak to 15 1/3 innings after tossing a clean inning against the Reds on Saturday. Crick has been nearly lights-out in late-game situations lately and owns a 2.14 ERA (five runs allowed over 21 innings) when appearing in the eighth inning.

How they prevailed: The Pirates' bullpen didn't allow a single free pass to the Reds, who rank second in the Majors in walks (381). Instead, Pittsburgh's relievers found great success striking out Cincinnati's lineup, recording 13 of their 26 outs via punchout. All seven members of the Pirates' bullpen used this week -- Crick, Steven Brault, Michael Feliz, Tyler Glasnow, Richard Rodriguez, Edgar Santana, and 2018 All-Star Felipe Vazquez -- fanned at least one batter.

Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com.

Pittsburgh Pirates