The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has been very good all season, but the “Shark Tank” was taxed quite a bit on the team’s recent six-game road trip.
Whether it be short starts, lengthy games or a combination of the two, the Bucco ‘pen has had to cover more than its fair share of innings over the past week. While that trend could easily reverse itself in the coming days, the Pirates have added another tenured major-league arm to their arsenal should the need arise.
According to the Associated Press, the Pirates and righthanded reliever Kyle Farnsworth have agreed to a minor-league contract that will see him join the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians roster immediately. At 37, the hard-throwing Farnsworth fell out of favor earlier this season with the Tampa Bay Rays, his sixth MLB team.
The 6-foot-4 Farnsworth debuted with the Chicago Cubs in 1999 before moving on to pitch for Detroit, Atlanta, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and the Yankees. An average MLB reliever for much of his career, his most effective recent season was 2011, when he recorded a 2.18 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in 57 2/3 innings.
Farnsworth has been a high-strikeout pitcher when throwing well, as his career rate of 8.9 whiffs per nine innings can attest. His 2013 wasn’t so good (5.8 K/9) in that category, and his ERA (5.76) and WHIP (1.48) were also trending downward before he threw his last game for the Rays on Aug. 7.
With Jason Grilli still trying to come back from a forearm strain and Mark Melancon being used primarily in the ninth inning since Grilli’s injury, the Pirates could use another righty in the bullpen to complement lefty setup men Tony Watson and Justin Wilson. Whether Farnsworth can be counted on to provide a safe option is yet to be seen, but general manager Neal Huntington has shown an ability to find useful relievers discarded by other teams.
For now, Bryan Morris, Vin Mazzaro, Jeanmar Gomez and Melancon are the righties in the Pirates’ bullpen.