Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Pirates to prioritize flexibility in setup roles

Hurdle won't use defined pitchers in specific circumstances; Rodriguez nearing return
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Before Friday night, Tyler Glasnow had only entered one game this season with a lead of fewer than four runs. But with the Bucs ahead by one run against the Reds at PNC Park, manager Clint Hurdle called the bullpen and asked for Glasnow.

The right-hander delivered an efficient, scoreless seventh inning as the Pirates held on to win, 3-2. It may not be the last time Glasnow is asked to protect a narrow lead in the seventh inning, but there's no guarantee Glasnow will pitch in the same situation the next time it occurs. It's all part of a plan the Pirates conveyed to their relievers before Friday's game.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- Before Friday night, Tyler Glasnow had only entered one game this season with a lead of fewer than four runs. But with the Bucs ahead by one run against the Reds at PNC Park, manager Clint Hurdle called the bullpen and asked for Glasnow.

The right-hander delivered an efficient, scoreless seventh inning as the Pirates held on to win, 3-2. It may not be the last time Glasnow is asked to protect a narrow lead in the seventh inning, but there's no guarantee Glasnow will pitch in the same situation the next time it occurs. It's all part of a plan the Pirates conveyed to their relievers before Friday's game.

View Full Game Coverage

Hurdle and GM Neal Huntington would like to get more relievers involved on a more regular basis, with one primary goal: Get the ball to closer Felipe Vazquez. While Vazquez's role will not change, it seems the Bucs will keep things fluid in an effort to get their bullpen on track.

Video: CIN@PIT: Vazquez gets Votto swinging for 13th save

"Everybody would love to be on a routine, and sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn't work," Hurdle said. "Sometimes performance issues come into play where other people need to touch the ball before somebody else does, based on performance. It can be a moving target.

"Some guys are sold out on roles, just the way it is. You try to appreciate that, or at least honor that in individual cases where it might make the most sense or it's warranted. Sometimes you go off the board and you say, 'Here's the spot I've got for you. You're going to roll with this. Let's see how you can handle it.'"

Left-hander Steven Brault pitched two scoreless innings in the Pirates' 6-2 win over the Reds on Saturday. Michael Feliz gave up one run on a homer in the ninth but struck out two and finished the inning.

Video: CIN@PIT: Feliz gets Hamilton looking in the 9th

The Pirates' bullpen finished Saturday's game with a 4.58 ERA, the sixth-highest mark in the Majors. Their relievers had thrown 231 innings, the eighth-fewest in the Majors. The Pirates hope that spreading the workload will help some struggling relievers, ease the load on other pitchers and allow them to optimize matchups.

It seems likely that Kyle Crick and Edgar Santana will continue to pitch in high-leverage spots, as Crick worked the eighth inning on Friday. But Hurdle said there will be no sixth-inning, seventh-inning or eighth-inning setup man set in stone, and he proved it Friday by using Glasnow in the seventh.

"Everyone in the bullpen will tell you they want to throw more than less," Glasnow said. "Just in order to stay sharp and stay consistent, you've got to go out there and pitch."

Around the horn
• Reliever Richard Rodriguez (right shoulder inflammation) threw a 20-pitch simulated inning on Saturday. Afterward, Rodriguez said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez that he felt "100 percent" and ready to come off the disabled list.

"I have no issues, no problems, and I feel really good right now," Rodriguez said. "The rest worked out great."

Before the injury, Rodriguez was one of the Pirates' most effective relievers. The 28-year-old rookie owns a 2.38 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 33 strikeouts and three walks in 22 2/3 innings.

Elias Diaz started behind the plate on Saturday. Francisco Cervelli, a week removed from the foul tip that left his jaw bruised, is doing well and may start consecutive games on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

• The Rookie-level Bristol Pirates announced their roster on Saturday morning. The pitching staff includes right-handers Shane Baz and Steven Jennings, the Bucs' first two picks in the 2017 Draft, as well as fellow '17 Draft pick Conner Uselton. Baz is Pittsburgh's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, while Jennings ranks 14th and Uselton 16th. First baseman/outfielder Mason Martin, the Bucs' No. 25 prospect, is also set to join Bristol.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Steven Brault, Kyle Crick, Michael Feliz, Tyler Glasnow, Edgar Santana