As it turns out, all my talk about the disappointing inaction of Pirates management to fill the rotation this offseason may be for not if the bullpen performs to the same level they did last year. Huntington showed restraint by not trading Mark Melancon, one of the best closers in the game and replacing him with setup man Tony Watson. With those two anchoring the 8th and 9th innings, there’s no doubt that the Bucs will have an excellent record when leading after 7.
The rest of the bullpen is manned by flame-thrower Arquimedes Caminero, Jared Hughes and newly require Neftali Feliz. As last year’s bullpen reclamation project, Caminero is sure to be inspiration for Feliz, who looks to rebound from an awful 2015. Feliz had an ERA over seven last year, but if he can find any of his form from 2014 with the Rangers, he’ll be a great addition to an already dangerous bullpen.
The Pirates’ strategy is obvious: shorten the game. Assuming their starters can make it through five to six innings on average, there’s reason to be optimistic going into just about any matchup. A bullpen this strong can shut the door very quickly.