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Pirates Place All-Star Closer On Injured List

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates placed two-time All-Star closer David Bednar on the injured list, retroactive to Thursday. It was a mild surprise on Saturday to see Aroldis Chapman emerge from the PNC Park bullpen to protect a 4-2 lead against the Tampa Bay Rays. Chapman surrendered a run but saved a 4-3 victory. It was announced after the game that Bednar suffered from left-side tightness and was kept out of the game as a precaution.

Pirates Place All-Star Bednar on Injured List

Precaution has turned into all-out caution as it was determined the issue is a tight lat muscle. It was a tight right-side lat muscle that caused Bednar to miss most of spring training. As a result, Bednar got off to a slow start. He’s been a little better lately, although he surrendered two meaningless solo home runs in wrapping up wins over the St. Louis Cardinals on June 11 and Colorado Rockies on the 14th. Bednar goes to the IL with a record of 3-3 with 16 saves and a 5.17 ERA. A third consecutive All-Star berth doesn’t seem likely.

The bullpen was thought to be a strength after the Pirates signed Chapman to a $10.5 million contract for 2024. Chapman would be joining a lock-down bullpen that included holdovers Colin Holderman, Carmen Mlodzinski, and Ryan Borucki. Unfortunately, the five relievers haven’t been on the active roster at the same time yet this season. Now the Pirates lose Bednar just as Borucki is on a rehab assignment after a stint on the injured list.

Of this group, only Holderman has performed as expected. His ERA is 0.68 to go with a WHIP of .938 at the close of Saturday’s action. However, Chapman has had his ups and downs. Thanks to extended bouts of wildness (27 walks in 27 innings), Chapman has a 4.00 ERA and a 1.667 WHIP. He hasn’t been as advertised. Mlodzinski is trying to settle in after his stint on the IL. He’s been used as an opener in bullpen games and has yet to regain his late-inning role. His stats reflect a 4.50 ERA and 1.450 WHIP.

The Last Word

The guess here is that manager Derek Shelton won’t assign the closer’s role to one pitcher in Bednar’s absence. Based on match-ups, we’ll likely see Holderman or Chapman in the ninth inning. Whoever doesn’t pitch the ninth will probably pitch the eighth. Chapman has plenty of experience closing games, while it’s doubtful Holderman will be fazed by the prospect of closing.

The Pirates have recalled lefty Justin Bruihl from triple-A Indianapolis to take Bednar’s place on the roster. Bruihl was sent down just six days ago when the Bucs called up Daulton Jefferies. Bruihl was effective during his previous stay in Pittsburgh. His 6.75 ERA belies the true story, as it was distorted by one bad outing against the Rockies last week.

Main Photo Credits: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


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