Pittsburgh Pirates' Young Relief Pitchers Show Their Potential

Andrew Kaufman@akaufman23Senior Analyst IMay 7, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 02:  Bryan Morris #57 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves during the game on October 2, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Pirates defeated the Braves 5-1.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates' bullpen has been stellar this year, leading the Bucs to a strong start despite a very challenging April.

Jason Grilli has been as good of a closer as he was a set-up man in 2012, and Mark Melancon has made the Joel Hanrahan trade look like a laugher. But what is even more exciting for the Pirates is that they have two more late-inning relievers waiting in the wings.

Neither Bryan Morris nor Justin Wilson is refined enough to consistently pitch in high-leverage situations yet, but each pitcher has a bright future in the Pittsburgh bullpen.

Morris and Wilson are both getting their first full-time major league opportunities this season, and both players are proving up to the challenge. Each has had his hiccups, but both pitchers clearly have the stuff to excel down the road.

Morris, the only player the Pirates acquired in the Jason Bay trade who remains on the Pittsburgh roster, relies on a sharp cutter to keep batters off balance, while Wilson's dynamic fastball sets the tone for his other offerings. Each pitcher has sharp movement, but needs to improve the command that accompanies that movement.

Neither player is yet pitching like a reliable high-leverage reliever. Morris has only thrown seven innings for Pittsburgh, and his two home runs allowed lead to an unenviable stat line. But the movement on his cutter is apparent, and a slight improvement in location will make the pitch virtually impossible to hit.

Wilson meanwhile, has always had control problems, and they have persisted in his 20 innings so far this year. But he can throw his fastball by most hitters, and when he is throwing his slider for strikes he remains a force on the mound.

Bryan Morris and Justin Wilson are works in progress; they may not make particularly noteworthy contributions this seasons. But both players are an example of how the Pirates continue to replenish their bullpen with cheap talent. There's no reason to expect the quality of the Bucs' bullpen to decline anytime soon.