Beede gives Shelton confidence in deploying bullpen game

August 9th, 2022

PHOENIX -- The Tyler Beede-led bullpen game wasn’t the most effective plan the first time the Pirates tried it on Wednesday, a day after they traded José Quintana to the Cardinals and needed to fill a rotation spot. But manager Derek Shelton decided to give it a second go.

“We wanted to give Tyler another opportunity,” Shelton said. “I think that was important.”

Things went about as well as Pittsburgh could have hoped when it sent Beede to the mound Monday night at Chase Field. The right-hander opened the game with 3 2/3 scoreless innings, then three more relievers combined to allow two earned runs in a 3-0 loss to the D-backs.

Beede, Manny Bañuelos (two innings) and Yerry De Los Santos (1 1/3) held Arizona to one unearned run through seven, before Yohan Ramirez gave up a two-run, two-out single to Ketel Marte in the eighth. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh recorded three hits while getting blanked by the trio of Zac Gallen (seven innings), Joe Mantiply (one) and Ian Kennedy (one).

Despite the defeat, Shelton was pleased with how Beede and Co. navigated the D-backs’ lineup for the majority of the night.

“To run a bullpen game and to use a minimal amount of pitchers, I think it started with Beede and how effective he was,” Shelton said. “I thought our bullpen threw the ball pretty well and gave us what we expected.”

Beede, whose first 23 appearances of the season came as a reliever, didn’t fare well in his previous start, against Milwaukee. He allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while lasting only 1 1/3 innings.

This time, Beede retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit until yielding a pair in the fourth, before departing with the game scoreless.

“That's your job as a starter, really as any pitcher, is to either keep your team in the game or put yourself in a position to win,” Beede said. “So just any time you can, go out and set a tone either way and put up zeros.”

This may not be a long-term approach for the Pirates, though. Shelton likes the experience Beede brings to the mound, as he made 22 starts for the Giants in 2019, before undergoing Tommy John surgery the following year. But the Bucs will have other options down the stretch.

“When you start a game, there’s a different mindset to it, and because he has done it, we wanted to make sure that we gave him another look at it,” Shelton said. “In terms of reading too far into it, I wouldn’t read too far into anything we do pitching-wise, because we’re always adapting and trying to adjust in terms of how we’re going to deploy.”

Several pitchers at Triple-A Indianapolis are apparent candidates to start over the next two months. Jerad Eickhoff, a 32-year-old right-hander, has made 81 starts in seven big league seasons. Youngsters Miguel Yajure (24) and Roansy Contreras (22) each had stints in the Majors earlier this season as well and are likely to factor into the mix.

However, Pittsburgh is monitoring Contreras’ workload, so it may be a bit longer before he gets called up. As for Yajure, he has a 6.81 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) in Triple-A. And although he’s allowed only two runs over his past nine innings pitched, the Pirates aren’t quite ready to recall him, either.

“His last start was better, and I think that’s the thing, we still have ways forward for him,” Shelton said of Yajure. “The big thing was making sure that he continues those ways forward there. And I think it was encouraging to see his last start was good and kind of justified the fact that we think about his development and how it continues, and it’s at the right level.”

So for now, the Bucs could keep relying on Beede and the ’pen every fifth game to fill the Quintana-sized void in their rotation. If it keeps going like Monday, Pittsburgh’s relief corps could anchor a few victories, too.

For Beede, his mentality hasn’t changed throughout 2022, and it’s not going to as he looks to continue to lower his 3.57 ERA.

“Keeping it a one-inning approach at a time, not trying to count outs or go a certain length, but just keeping an attack mentality,” Beede said. “That's what I've learned coming out of the ’pen, and just trying to transition it to whatever that was today -- opening, starting, that kind of thing."