Why Jason Grilli's Arm Injury Doesn't Derail Pirates' Playoff Chances

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Why Jason Grilli's Arm Injury Doesn't Derail Pirates' Playoff Chances

Pittsburgh Pirates closer Jason Grilli was placed on the disabled list, but his absence won't derail the team's playoff chances.

Grilli left in the ninth inning of the Pirates game against the Washington Nationals Monday with a right forearm strain.

While it's not thought of as anything major, any arm injury tends to worry fans. 

In response to the move, the Pirates called up Victor Black, who is a ridiculous reliever prospect. In 2013, he has a 2.31 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 35 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis. He also is averaging 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.94 strikeouts for every walk.

According to ScoutingBook.com, Black has filthy stuff and is a future closer.

But the fact that Black is being called up is not the only reason why the Pirates' playoff chances aren't derailed.

 

Deep Bullpen

The Pirates have one of the deepest bullpens in all of baseball.

They have a record of 21-11 with 36 saves, a 2.77 ERA and 303 strikeouts in 341 innings pitched.

Those numbers are among the top in the league with only Baltimore ahead in saves (39), Atlanta ahead in ERA (2.66) and Arizona ahead in wins (22).

One way they're reaching those numbers is by keeping opponents to a .212 average and only allowing 21 of 109 (19 percent) inherited runners to score.

Of the 45 save opportunities, the Pirates have only blown nine for an 80 percent success rate. They lead the league with 60 holds. Combine that with the 36 saves and you have 96 of 105 save situations (91 percent) converted.

Mark Melancon has been leading the charge everywhere with 26 holds and a 0.97 ERA.

Add in Justin Wilson's six wins (all in relief), eight holds and 1.86 ERA, and you have the makings of a good bullpen.

The loss of Grilli hurts a little, but not as much as one might think, especially considering what the Pirates still have.

 

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What They Must Do

While no changes are needed for the bullpen, the Pirates still have to look for a little more offense.

According to Bleacher Report writer Benjamin Klein, Pittsburgh should target a player that can "...preferably play first base and hit with power and consistency..."

Maybe someone like a Paul Konerko or Justin Morneau, although there are no rumors linking either to Pittsburgh.

Regardless, the Pirates need a little more help in the power department as Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez can't be the only ones hitting bombs.

If the Pirates can bolster their offensecombined with their excellent starting and relief pitchingthere's no doubt they'll be a favorite in the playoffs.

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