Bullpens often get overlooked, but Seton Hall’s has been a key to the Pirates’ success.
Coming into the year, most expected the starting trio of Shane McCarthy, Zach Prendergast and Cullen Dana to carry the Pirates’ pitching staff. While they have improved as of late, it has been the bullpen that has really shined thus far.
In comparison to the 2016 season, the three starters’ combined ERA has risen from 3.00 to 4.43 while the remainder of the staff’s ERA has dropped from 3.42 to an impressive 2.14 as of Tuesday, April 4.
Much of the credit for the decrease in ERA is due to the four relief pitchers who lead the team in innings pitched out of the bullpen.
Senior Ryan Testani (25.2 innings pitched), junior Matt Leon (12.2), senior Anthony Pacillo (11.1) and freshman Ricky DeVito (10.2) have all helped lead a strong Pirates’ bullpen.
The backbone of this group has been the man at the backend of the bullpen.
Testani has been phenomenal, posting a 0.35 ERA to go along with his team-leading two saves in 14 appearances on the season.
After only tossing 22 innings combined his sophomore and junior campaigns due to some arm troubles, the righty out of Shelton, Conn. changed his mechanics in order to become a submarine-style pitcher.
The results from that change have done wonders.
Unlike Testani, who usually pitches to contact, Leon gets his outs via the strikeout. In the latest series against LIU-Brooklyn, Leon threw 2.1 innings of shutout ball while striking out five of the seven batters he faced.
In fact, the bullpen as a whole was especially impressive in the LIU-Brooklyn series. The bullpen did not surrender an earned run through eight innings of work, only giving up five hits in the process.
In just his second full season in relief, Pacillo has provided steady, veteran leadership out of the bullpen for the Pirates.
The lefty has held opposing batters at bay with a team-leading .128 batting average against. Pacillo is also tied for second amongst the bullpen in strikeouts this season with the aforementioned Leon at 14.
The bullpen’s leader in strikeouts is the Staten Island, N.Y. DeVito. In just seven appearances on the season, DeVito has 15 strikeouts, all without giving up an earned run.
Other young arms, such as sophomore Matt Ponsiglione, who has a 1.93 ERA in five appearances, have contributed to the success of a Pirates bullpen that has only given up one long ball all year.
With the starting staff beginning to settle into its own and an already impressive bullpen, the Pirates have set themselves up for some good pitching heading into Big East play.
Nick Santoriello is a journalism major from Nutley, N.J. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NickSantoriello.