Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates Fantasy Baseball Daily Bullpen Updates and Closer Depth Chart

Closer 1st in line 2nd in line 2016 Closer Updated
PIT Mark Melancon Tony Watson Antonio Bastardo Mark Melancon 3/8/15

Previous updates:

March 8, 2015
Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates head into the season with no major changes to their bullpen. Mark Melancon will get the first shot at saves after taking over the closers role last year — he converted 23 of 24 save opportunities down the stretch and was instrumental in Pittsburgh’s playoff run. Behind him, the Pirates will turn to lefty Tony Watson as their primary set up man, who has value as a middle reliever, particularly in holds leagues, as a strikeout-per-inning pitcher who doesn’t walk many batters. Newly acquired Antonio Bastardo joins him as the other lefty in the pen, with Jared Hughes also in the mix for late-inning work. In holds leagues, the pride of New Zealand, John Holdzkom, is a sleeper candidate for high leverage innings. He has a power arm and performed well in his brief call up at the end of 2014, but he’s unproven in the majors and has minor league options available. The Pirates may send him down early, and lean on new acquisitions Arquimedes Caminero and former top prospect Radhames Liz to fill out the back end of their bullpen.

Starting 2015 hierarchy: Melancon | Watson | Bastardo.
Primary holds candidates – Watson, Hughes.

September 24, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — Tony Watson grabbed his second vulture save in three days as the Pirates continue their torrid run. Pittsburgh has won 16 of their last 19 games.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Holdzkom.

September 22, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – Mark Melancon got the day off Sunday after pitching in three straight and four of five, allowing Tony Watson picked up his first save of the season. Chalk another one up for the Vulture Save Watch.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Holdzkom.

September 17, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — John Holdzkom’s major league career now comprises six scoreless innings, two baserunners, and 11 strikeouts. A former prospect rediscovered in an independent league earlier this season, Holdzkom is eliciting comparisons to a young K-Rod, and is a name to remember for October and beyond, especially in holdz holds leagues.

Updated hierarchy: Melancon | Watson | Holdzkom.

September 7, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – Rookie John Holdzkom recorded a save yesterday, as the Pirates won the continuation of their suspended game on Friday.  Holdzkom, a 6-foot-7 right handed reliever with an interesting back story, has been a pleasant surprise for the Pirates since getting called up, but he will not normally factor into the Pirates’ late inning plans at this point.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Hughes.

August 16, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – Recently acquired John Axford had a solid debut for his new team, as he pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts.  Axford has good strikeout numbers this season, but the walks have really hurt him.  If he can limit his walks he should work his way into some high leverage spots for the Pirates, but that is a big if.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Hughes.

August 9, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates have seen enough of Ernesto Frieri and designated him for assignment yesterday.  It’s possible that Frieri could catch on somewhere else but it’s more likely that Frieri’s days as being a relevant part of a team’s bullpen are over.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Hughes.

July 26, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – Ernesto Frieri had been pitching pretty well recently, but last night he gave up 4 runs in one inning of work.  The outing raised Frieri’s ERA to 7.38 for the season.  Jared Hughes, on the other hand, has an ERA under 2.00.  The change of scenery hasn’t helped Frieri as much as the Pirates’ hoped and it’s likely that he will be relegated to middle relief at this point.

Updated hierarchy: Melancon | Watson | Hughes.

July 16, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh could move Mark Melancon back to a setup role if it can wrest Huston Street away from the Padres. TRADE DEADLINE SELL: Mark Melancon.

July 13, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jeanmar Gomez picked up the save in the 11th inning last night.  Melancon, Watson and Frieri all pitched earlier in the game so, despite the save, Gomez still does not factor into the Pirates’ late inning plans.

Hierarchy Remains: Melancon | Watson | Frieri.

July 4, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – His first two appearances as a Pirate had gone relatively smoothly, but last night, Ernesto Frieri had one of his signature meltdowns, allowing five runs and five hits in just 0.1 innings. At this point, with the way Tony Watson is pitching this year, we don’t think Frieri would be first up for a save chance on nights when Mark Melancon is unavailable.

Updated hierarchy: Melancon | Watson | Frieri.

June 28, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — Ernesto Frieri has been traded to the Pirates in a swap of former closers.  Mark Melancon just became the Pirate’s closer a week ago, and he should hang on to the job for now.  However the Pirates like Frieri’s stuff so if he can get back on track he could challenge Melancon for saves.

Updated hierarchy: Melancon | Frieri | Watson.

June 20, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — As we expected, Jason Grilli has been removed as the Pirates’ closer in favor of Mark Melancon, with Tony Watson getting the occasional save opportunity as well. Clint Hurdle added that, for now, Grilli would pitch with the team behind, but that the move was not necessarily permanent.

Updated hierarchy: Melancon | Watson | Wilson.

June 20, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli blew his fourth save of the season on Thursday. Four blown saves — and an accompanying 4.34 ERA — isn’t exactly horrendous, but it’s obviously not what you want to see out of your closer, especially when your bullpen has been stellar otherwise. So after the game, Clint Hurdle wasn’t exactly giving Grilli a ringing endorsement, and Mark Melancon might be on the verge of a promotion.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.
Jason Grilli to Hot Seat.

June 14, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — The Pirates bullpen had a rough 9th inning last night.  They started the inning with a 4 run lead, but after Justin Wilson walked two batters, the Pirates had to call on closer Jason Grilli.  He gave up a hit and walked three more batters (one intentionally) and was pulled with the bases loaded and the Pirates clinging to a one run lead.  Mark Melancon came on and walked the first batter of the inning, the sixth walk of the inning for Pirates’ pitchers, and allowed the game-tying run to score.  Although Grilli was removed in the 9th last night we don’t think he is danger of losing his job.  He had converted five straight save chances.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.

May 31, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli recorded his second save in two days on Friday night and is ready to return to the closer’s role full time.  Clint Hurdle said he will monitor Grilli’s health the rest of the season, so Melancon will still see some save opportunities when Grilli is given a night off, but Grilli is definitely the guy when he is available.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.

May 28, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli struck out the side in the eighth on Tuesday with the Pirates trailing, after Clint Hurdle explained that he has no timeline for Grilli’s official return to the closer role. Although Mark Melancon might get the next save opportunity, Hurdle won’t hold off long, saying, “I do like my bullpen best with Grilli closing.”

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.

May 27, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — As predicted in Monday’s Vulture Save Watch, Mark Melancon earned another save on Monday as Jason Grilli is eased back into the closer role.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.

May 25, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — We mentioned in the Vulture Save Watch yesterday that the Pirates might want to ease Jason Grilli back from his injury and that was the case yesterday as Grilli was unavailable.  Mark Melancon recorded the save, and lowered his ERA under 2 in the process.  Manager Clint Hurdle didn’t insert Grilli immediately into the closer’s role last year when he came back from injury, and even though Grilli got the save on Friday, Melancon could still see some save opportunities for the time being.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.

May 24, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli was activated from the DL on Friday and immediately got the call in the 9th inning.  He worked around a lead-off walk and picked up his 5th save of the season.  Mark Melancon pitched well in Grilli’s absence, and is worth handing onto in case Grilli struggles, but it looks like he will go back to his set-up role for now.

Updated Hierarchy: Grilli | Melancon | Watson

May 22, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli expects to return on Saturday, and should slide back into the closer role soon thereafter. He’s owned in over 80% of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, so we won’t issue an email alert when he comes back, but if he’s available in your league, act now.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Wilson.

May 15, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — After throwing 24 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday afternoon, Jason Grilli pronounced himself “ready” to return to the Pirates. But given the description of his new book — by a Pirates blog, no less — as “a tour de force of delusional narcissism,” you may wish to take this news with a grain of salt.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Wilson.

April 25, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jason Grilli has been placed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain.  Mark Melancon will close in his place, while Tony Watson moves up to cover the 8th.  Hierarchy change: Mark Melancon to Closer, Tony Watson to Set-up, Justin Wilson to 2nd in line, Jason Grilli to DL.

April 21, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jason Grilli has been burned on consecutive days by Ryan Braun home runs, and now has three blown saves for the season.  Generally speaking, Grilli’s recent history as a lights-out closer gives him a longer leash than most.  But Mark Melancon is yet again proving himself to be one of the best set-up men in baseball, and if Grilli can’t get things straightened out, then the struggling Pirates will be forced to look elsewhere.  Jason Grilli to Hot Seat.

March 13, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli had a great 2013, but he’s older than you might think, with lingering health concerns. Still the top option for a team good enough to win a lot, but not good enough to win by a lot. Ranked #10 in our preseason closer rankings.

March 9, 2014
Pittsburgh Pirates– Jason Grilli is the closer for the Pirates and was very good when healthy last season.  However he is 37 years old and missed time last year with a right forearm injury.  Luckily for Pirates fans they have Mark Melancon, and his 1.39 ERA, waiting to step in if anything happens to Grilli.  Tony Watson should round out the back end of the Pirates bullpen.  Starting 2014 hierarchy: Closer – Jason Grilli, Set-up – Mark Melancon, 2nd in line – Tony Watson.

September 22, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth on Saturday to pick up his 31st save of the season.  The Pirates have announced that Grilli will take over as the closer again and move Mark Melancon back to his set-up role.  Hierarchy change: Jason Grilli to Closer, Mark Melancon to Set-up.

September 14, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jason Grilli blew a one run lead in the 7th inning last night.  He has now given up at least one run in his last three appearances and if he continues to pitch like this, Mark Melancon should continue as closer for the rest of the season. No hierarchy change.

September 12, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – Kyle Farnsworth picked up his first save of the season on Wednesday, on a night when Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli were unavailable.  Farnsworth would have been far from our first choice, as the 37-year-old righty was out of a job just a few weeks ago.  But his usage yesterday suggests Clint Hurdle will value his 9th inning experience on nights where his top two relievers can’t pitch.  Hierarchy change: Kyle Farnsworth to 2nd in line, replacing Tony Watson.  

September 4, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates — Nearly eight years ago, Jason Grilli pitched 7.2 solid innings to lead the Toledo Mud Hens to their first AAA championship in 38 years. But his dream of recapturing Governors’ Cup glory was put on hold today when Pittsburgh summoned him to the big leagues for some boring old regular season action. Clint Hurdle confirmed that he will use Grilli in some non-save situations before transitioning him back into the closer role. Hierarchy change: Jason Grilli to Set-up, Tony Watson to 2nd in line.

September 3, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates — Mark Melancon’s outstanding performance as the Bucs’ interim closer could give Clint Hurdle the luxury of easing Jason Grilli back into high-leverage use. Grilli struck out the side in his Monday rehab appearance with the Altoona Curve; he’s expected to make one last rehab appearance on Wednesday for AAA playoff team Indianapolis, unless the big club calls him up first. Hierarchy change: Jason Grilli to Set-up (DL).

August 16, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – Justin Wilson pitched the 7th inning last night with the Pirates down 1.  Tony Watson came on for the 8th after the Pirates tied the game.  In save situations, Watson has come on in the 8th 11 times while Wilson has only been used once.  On another note, Jason Grilli could be back September 1stHierarchy change: Tony Watson to Set-up,  Justin Wilson to 2nd in line.

July 27, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli will not need surgery on his injured right forearm but is expected to miss 4-8 weeks. Mark Melancon will continue to close while Grilli is out. No hierarchy change.

July 24, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli officially hit the DL on Tuesday and Mark Melancon will indeed take his place in the ninth inning. No hierarchy change.

July 23, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates have not released much on the injury to Jason Grilli, who will be re-evaluated today.  The official word thus far is “right forearm tightness,” which is often an ominous precursor to Tommy John surgery.  Vin Mazzaro picked up his first career save on Monday, getting the last out after Grilli’s exit, but All Star set-up man Mark Melancon will be the one to get saves going forward.  Justin Wilson and Tony Watson are the two best candidates for the 8th inning role. Hierarchy change: Mark Melancon to Closer, Justin Wilson to Set-up, Tony Watson to 2nd in line, Jason Grilli injured.

July 22, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – After his 24th pitch of the night, Jason Grilli winced, grabbed his arm, and beckoned for the trainers.  If it’s serious, and observers are speculating that it is, then Mark Melancon will take over as Pirates closer for the foreseeable future.  Hierarchy change: Mark Melancon to Closer, Justin Wilson to Set-up, Tony Watson to 2nd in line, Jason Grilli injured.

July 18, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh’s bullpen has been very good, so if they do make a move, it would probably be only to add a setup manTRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None.

June 29, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – With the Pirates up big last night Ryan Reid pitched the final three innings for the save.  No hierarchy change.

June 27, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – After a taxing outing on Sunday, Jason Grilli has gotten a few days off.  On Wednesday, Mark Melancon pitched the 9th inning in his stead.  So far, there’s no indication that this is anything serious.  No hierarchy change.

June 21, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – Tony Watson picked up a two-inning save on Thursday.  Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, and Justin Wilson had all received pretty heavy workloads this week, and all three were given the night off.  No hierarchy change.

May 23, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates — Mark Melancon picked up the save on Wednesday.  As noted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Jason Grill had pitched three of the last four games. No hierarchy change.

May 22, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates — With a win and two holds in the last week, Justin Wilson has moved ahead of Tony Watson in the Pirates’ pen. Hierarchy change: Justin Wilson to 2nd in line, replacing Tony Watson.

May 15, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates — Whatever kept Jason Grilli from playing on Monday didn’t interfere with his Tuesday performance — he struck out the side in a perfect ninth. No hierarchy change.

May 14, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli left the clubhouse abruptly on Monday due to personal reasons, and should be considered day-to-day. No hierarchy change.

April 26, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – With both Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon getting a day off, Tony Watson picked up a 2-inning save on Thursday.  Barring injuries, Watson won’t get too many opportunities like this one.  No hierarchy change.

April 4, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – Tony Watson came on to finish the 7th inning for the Pirates on Wednesday, then stayed on to pitch the 8th, logging a perfect 1.1 innings and picking up his first save of the year.  Due to his past experience, Mark Melancon is likely the guy the Pirates will use on days where Jason Grilli is unavailable, but Watson may get some 8th inning action as well.  Hierarchy change: Tony Watson to 2nd in line, replacing Jared Hughes.

February 24, 2013
Pittsburgh Pirates – Starting 2013 hierarchy: Closer- Jason Grilli, Set-up- Mark Melancon, 2nd in line- Jared Hughes.

October 2, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – With Joel Hanrahan and Jason Grilli unavailable after pitching in two straight, Jared Hughes picked up his second save of the season.  No hierarchy change.

August 18, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Juan Cruz, who returned from the DL a week ago, pitched in the 7th inning last night.  Cruz should return to that role on a regular basis, especially given how shaky Chad Qualls has been lately.  Hierarchy change: Juan Cruz to 2nd in line, replacing Chad Qualls.

August 10, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – With the Pirates down by 1 run in the 7th, they went to Jared Hughes, who got knocked around and was unable to escape the inning.  The Pirates traded for Chad Qualls at the deadline, and used him in the 8th inning ahead of Joel Hanrahan on Wednesday; he’s now ahead of Hughes on the depth chart.  Hierarchy change: Chad Qualls to 2nd in line, replacing Jared Hughes.

July 29, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jason Grilli picked up the save on Saturday.  As noted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Joel Hanrahan had pitched three days in a row.  No hierarchy change.

July 26, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jared Hughes pitched the 7th inning in a 1-run game on Wednesday, notching his 9th hold.  The righty now has a 1.90 ERA and has picked up three holds this week.  Hierarchy change: Jared Hughes to 2nd in line, replacing Brad Lincoln.

July 22, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Brad Lincoln was summoned in the 8th inning with the Pirates up by 4 runs and several runners on base.  He got out of the jam, then stayed on for the 9th to record his first save of the season.  Lincoln won’t often get a save chance, but with Juan Cruz recently hitting the DL, he will play an increasingly important role in the Pirates bullpen.  Hierarchy change: Brad Lincoln to 2nd in line, replacing Juan Cruz.

July 12, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – The first-place Pirates are buyers, but most media reports have them seeking a bat, not an arm. Even if they were to tack on in the bullpen, an acquisition would probably inherit the 7th or 8th inning role, as Joel Hanrahan has been solid all year. BUY/SELL: None.

July 1, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jared Hughes got the last out of the 8th inning with the Pirates up three runs, then stayed on for the 9th after the Pirates added to their lead.  Hughes does not fit in to the Pirates regular late-inning plans.  No hierarchy change. 

June 11, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Up until Sunday, the Pirates had used Jason Grilli exclusively in the 8th inning, vaulting Juan Cruz from his 7th inning role into the closer role on nights when Joel Hanrahan was unavailable.  But yesterday, with Hanrahan getting the night off, the Pirates finally gave Grilli a save opp, and he converted.  Hierarchy change: Jason Grilli to Set-up, Juan Cruz to 2nd in line.  

June 8, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Chris Resop picked up a 10th inning save last night.  Joel Hanrahan had already pitched, blowing the save an inning earlier, but his job is not in jeopardy.  No hierarchy change. 

May 13, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Juan Cruz picked up the save on Saturday.  As noted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Joel Hanrahan was on the bereavement list due to the death of his grandmother.  Hanrahan is expected to return to the team today.  No hierarchy change.

April 19, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – As noted in yesterday’s vulture save watch, Joel Hanrahan is still sidelined with a mild hamstring injury, allowing Juan Cruz to pick up his second save in as many days.  While Hanrahan could return as soon as Friday, the Pirates have shown that Cruz will get any save opportunities when Hanrahan is unavailable, while Jason Grilli remains the 8th inning guy regardless.  Hierarchy change: Juan Cruz to Set-up, Jason Grilli to 2nd in line. 

April 18, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Joel Hanrahan has sustained a mild hamstring injury, and Juan Cruz picked up the save in his absence last night.  Hanrahan’s job is not in jeopardy and he is considered day to day, but Cruz has been solid this season, having not allowed any runs through 5 innings so far.  Hierarchy change: Juan Cruz to 2nd in line, replacing Evan Meek.

April 16, 2012
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jason Grilli has pitched the 8th inning in four of the last six games for the Pirates.  Grilli has surpassed Evan Meek, who struggled during spring training, on the depth chart.  Hierarchy change: Jason Grilli to Set-up, Evan Meek to 2nd in line.

September 25, 2011
Pittsburgh Pirates — Joel Hanrahan was unavailable for the 9th inning after throwing 32 pitches the previous night, so the Pirates turned to Jason Grilli for the save.  No hierarchy change. 

September 16, 2011
Pittsburgh Pirates — Evan Meek, the Pirates lone All Star in 2010, has been re-establishing himself as a reliable late-inning reliever since returning from the DL a few weeks ago.  Hierarchy change: Meek to 2nd in line, replacing Grilli.

Comments are closed