The Art of the Tank: The Pirates Bullpen


Being a Pirates fan all of my life, I have seen some shit. From the highs of a brief flirt with the playoffs to the lows of two plus decades of losing: I've seen it all. Well, until 2020.


Sitting at a 3-13 mark, the Buccos are without a doubt the worst team in baseball, and possibly the worst Pirates team of all-time, even more putrid than the 1985 and 2010 squads. Both of those teams won 57 games in the traditional 162 game season. Thank the Lord that this season is shortened by Covid - this roster would have trouble breaking 50 wins.


It's safe to that the Pirates are tanking. Management will never flat out say it because tanking is like Fight Club, you just don't talk about.


Even the most naive Pirates fan can see that the team is trying to tank. The most obvious giveaway is the bullpen. It was too long that the Bucs had one of the better bullpens in the National League, the Shark Tank. Now the only feeding frenzy going on is the opponent's hitters on the Pirates relievers.


Routinely Derek Shelton calls upon overmatched pitchers, some of them getting their first taste of big league ball, to pitch in critical situations through the game. Some names you know like Dovydas Neverauskas and Kyle Crick. Some you don't, like Yacksel Rios and Cody Ponce. And then there's Miguel Del Pozo.


As someone who has bet against the Pirates every game this season (#LetsGoBucks), Del Bozo (as I call him) holds a special place in my heart. He may have been the worst relief pitcher to ever pitch with the Pirates.


In 5 appearance before finally being sent down to Altoona after Friday night's shit show (Pirates surrendered 7 runs when he was on the mound), Del Pozo had an ERA of 17.18! That's a year not an earned run average. Out of those 5 outings, he gave up 7 runs and walked 8 (plus an intentional walk) over 3.2 total innings.


I get that the Pirates are tanking, but I have seen guys with a lot more talent than Del Bozo get less chances then he was afforded over the first quarter of the season. Walking more batters than surrendered runs is an impressive level of sucking. Del Pozo remains me of Mike Zagurski, a portly reliver who pitched for the Pirates in June 2013.


Zagurski was also a lefty like Del Bozo, and the only reason why I remember him because of how bad he was. In 6 outings, Zagurski had an 15.00 ERA, giving up 10 runs and walking 8. The Hefty Lefty (RIP) could not cut it for Clint Hurdle and was soon DFA.


If the Pirates are truly committing to tanking, we will see Miguel Del Pozo again at some point. And it hasn't been all trash cans coming out of the pen for the Bucs. Young guys like JT Brubaker, Sam Howard and Nick Turley have been surprises and shown they belong in The Show.


The Pirates do finally get Keon Kela after he had Covid, so they have a closer now. Will Kela make much of a difference for an overmatched pen? Hell no, but it gives them another capable arm. In my opinion, I think Kela is very overrated and a fake tough guy who thinks he's a lot better than he really is. But I'm just saying.




In order for the Pirates to get any better for the future, the tanking must continue. Keep sucking like nobody's watching. However fans are watching (on TV), watching the worst Pirates team since Ralph Kiner played in Pittsburgh. If the sucking can lead to Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker and other top prospects, I'm all for it. Tank on baby!