Game 102: The Watson Era Begins

Today, it was announced that Mark Melancon was traded from Pittsburgh to Washington for left handed reliever Felipe Rivero and left handed pitching prospect Taylor Hearn. As many fans were split on their feelings with this trade, the NS9 feels it was a very solid move but a bit disappointed the return didn’t involve a greater prospect than Hearn. Rivero is just a 25 year old reliever who tops 100 MPH on his fast ball and has a killer changeup that can be controlled through 2021. He will immediately supplant himself into the 7th inning role to provide a still, very productive bullpen for your Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tonight, the Pirates begin the era of Tony Watson being their new closer in Milwaukee. Rookie pitcher Jameson Taillon will take the mound tonight and face righty Chase Anderson. Taillon has looked brilliant at times this season bur hasn’t put together a solid stretch of starts, albeit he’s only made seven starts so far. In the 40 innings he has pitched he holds a 3.60 ERA with a solid 6.2 K/BB rate. In the lone game he pitched verse the Brewers, he went 6 innings while giving up just one earned run for the victory.

Tonight could be a great opportunity for Taillon to repeat his numbers from his last start with Jonathon Lucroy being held out of the game. With all of the trade rumors swirling, it would appear that a deal for Lucroy is imminent with the Indians and Mets leading the way. Lucroy is having another tremendous season batting .300/.360./484. Without him in the Brewers 25th ranked scoring offense will be a huge loss that the Pirates will need to capitalize on.

Pittsburgh finds themselves making a much needed adjustment as they decided to go with David Freese at the leadoff position forcing John Jaso to the bench. Since June 16, Jaso is hitting .186/.286/.287. Jaso was signed to the Pirates in hopes of bringing a quality player to bridge before Josh Bell is ready. While he was never much of a power threat, he brought a strong on base ability a solid average. With Jaso not performing in either of those departments, it starts to question why he is still on the team.

Freese represents the only non everyday starter that will be playing in tonight’s game. Although we would love to see Adam Frazier in the lineup, Josh Harrison will once again get the nod at second tonight.

For the Brewers, they will be pitching Chase Anderson who was brought over in the Jean Segura deal to Arizona. Anderson is not having a solid year as he holds a 5.40 ERA in 95 innings. This year represents the worst year of his three year career and his 5.30 FIP shows that it’s not a fluke. Anderson has given up hits and home runs like they’re on clearance. he is allowing 1.7 homers per nine along with 9.7 hits per nine. He features a fastball that sits at only around 91 MPH and righties have an OPS of 1.011 against him. With Polanco being the only lefty in the lineup, Pittsburgh will look to tee off in this game. It is not often that he makes it out of the 5th inning, so they should also get to this teams bullpen rather easily.

As for the Pirates bullpen, Tony Watson will not take over closer duties with Neftali Feliz moving to the setup man. Watson has been grooming to take over the closer role for a few years now and will take his 2.66 ERA and 1.02 WHIP into that role as of tonight. Feliz has also been very impressive holding a 2.97 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. As mentioned, the Pirates will now have fireballer Felipe Rivero in their bullpen as soon as tomorrow who appears to have closer potential in him as well. Though his ERA is a 4.53, his FIP of 3.26 along with his 3.53 K/BB rate, 48% ground ball rate, and his devastating fastball and changeup suggest that he has the ability to become a valuable piece to this bullpen the second he takes the mound for the Buccos.

With Melancon being sent to the Nationals, Pittsburgh 2nd ranked bullpen in the majors over the past month should not find many issues replacing him. Mark was a true representation of what Pirates baseball was all about and meant so much to this club over the past years. We wish nothing but the best for Mark at the NS9 and hope he has success with his new club. We just hope his success is limited to around 15 total innings the rest of the season.

Pirates Lineup:

  1. David Freese 1B
  2. Gregory Polanco RF
  3. Andrew McCutchen CF
  4. Starling Marte LF
  5. Jung Ho Kang 3B
  6. Francisco Cervelli C
  7. Josh Harrison 2B
  8. Jordy Mercer SS
  9. Jameson Taillon P

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