By Jason Shetler
Earlier this morning, ESPN’s Buster Olney came out with his rankings of the Top 10 bullpens heading into 2017. The Pirates cracked the list, as they were ranked tenth best.
Olney mentioned that he likes the addition of Daniel Hudson, who was one of the hardest-throwing right-handed relievers in the National League last season according to FanGraphs. Olney also thinks that the bullpen could be even better than their #10 ranking, if Tony Watson can excel as the closer.
Felipe Rivero will be in his first full season in the Pirates bullpen after coming over from the Washington Nationals in the Mark Melancon deal, and has the potential to be an elite level reliever. Juan Nicasio was outstanding last year once he was moved to the bullpen. Wade LeBlanc joined the Pirates in September, and could be a sleeper, as a lefty who can pitch multiple innings out of the pen if needed. Jared Hughes had a down year in 2016, but if he can bounce back, it gives them a different weapon to use for groundball purposes. Looking at the options, as well as the depth, the Pirates bullpen should be an improvement in 2017.