Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports Network wrote that the Pittsburgh Pirates could still be looking to add a reliever.  Who might they be after?

With a plethora of left handed relief pitchers, it is clear that the Pittsburgh Pirates need some right handed help.  Jared Hughes‘ horrific spring hasn’t helped matters.

Not coincidentally, Jon Heyman of FanRag reported that the team is looking for bullpen help in his latest column

If the Pirates were to add a right-handed reliever, who might they be after?  Here are a few of the remaining free agent options they might consider.

Luke Hochevar

Last year with the Kansas City Royals, Hochevar tallied 37.1 innings with 40 strikeouts and nine walks.  He had an ERA of 3.86 and an FIP of 4.06.  Hochevar’s season was cut short in 2017 due to a neck injury which sidelined him for the year.  The final game he pitched in 2016 was on July 24.  Rust could be an issue for Hochevar due to the fact that he hasn’t pitched for eight months and hasn’t had a proper spring training.

The former starting pitcher has a simpler repertoire than in the past relying on a fastball/cutter combo mixing in the occasional curveball.  His fastball sat at 94.5 mph has year and cutter 88.7.  With his stuff, Hochevar would be a good buy low reliever if he can stay healthy.

Edwin Jackson

Jackson was used primarily as a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres in 2016 and let’s just say it didn’t work out.

As a starter, Jackson threw 73.1 innings with an ERA of 5.89.  He had 54 strikeouts and 34 walks.  As a reliever last year with the Miami Marlins (before being traded to San Diego), Jackson started off well before two bad outings skewed his overall numbers.  In his first six appearances, Jackson was great giving up one run in 6.2 innings pitched.  In the two outings after, he gave up six runs in 4.0 innings pitched.

Jackson has been an serviceable reliever during his career.  Over 110.0 innings pitched, Jackson has a 4.34 ERA with 78 strikeouts and 52 walks.  Plain and simple, if the Pirates were to land Jackson, they would need to find a way to limit his free passes.  With a mid-90s fastball, Jackson could have great success with better control.

Jonathan Papelbon

Oh how the mighty have fallen.  Once a dominant closer, the short tempered 36 year-old is without a job deep into March.  Last year, Papelbon tossed 35.0 innings with 31 strikeouts and 14 walks.  He had an ERA of 4.37 but an FIP of 3.69 so he was a bit unlucky.

Papelbon’s velocity has dipped over the years as his fastball sits at about 91 mph.  In the past, he was throwing 95.  After struggling with an oblique injury last year, Papelbon may sit out the 2017 season due to a family matter.  If the right offer comes along, I’m sure he’d be willing the play. Of course, the Pittsburgh Pirates may not want to bring in a player like Papelbon, who has made clubhouse life difficult at times.

The “Best: of The Bunch?

Out of these three pitchers, I would take Jackson based purely on health.  He is the healthiest of the three and not one of these pitchers are outstandingly better than another.

If I had to choose between one of these three pitchers and Hughes, I would take Hughes.  Hughes was bad last year and has been terrible this spring but he still fits in the Pirates’ bullpen better than any of the three options discussed.  If the Pittsburgh Pirates truly want to add another relief option, they might be better off taking a look at the trade market.

Image credit – Keith Allison – Flickr Creative Commons

Nathan Hursh

Nathan is a graduate of Duquesne University with a degree in journalism. He has been a lifelong Pirates fans and loves watching baseball. Along with baseball, Nathan also has a passion for watching football and basketball. When he is not sitting on his couch indulging in sports, Nathan likes to be active outside. Along with Twitter, he can also be found on Instagram at nathan_hursh.
  • Piratte fan 4 life

    I disagree of the 3 options I personally would take Luke Huvachar just based on his numbers and the fact hasn’t lost any power or speed off of fastball – think about the reclamation projects we like they all are POWER pitchers with some speed left — that’s why Luke is the best fit

  • leadoff

    Don’t like any of these guys, do agree Hughes is done, but I also think Watson has problems. last time out the best his fastball could do was 91. I don’t know if he was working on some slow stuff or whether he has just lost velocity, this guy made a living hitting 94-95 on the gun. Not so fond of Schugel or Bastardo either. IMO the Pirates should be looking for a 2 or 3 pen pitchers. I don’t think there is any value in Hughes or Schugel, Bastardo maybe something.