Last night’s 9-5 loss to Chicago is one of those games that could sting and linger for awhile.
The Pirates were three outs away from an impressive come from behind win before the bullpen and in particular Juan Nicasio blew the game.
Blown saves are always tough but last nights included circumstances that have Pirate fans calling for the head of Clint Hurdle.
The biggest issues appear to be the usage of Nicasio and “closer” Felipe Rivero.
With the top of the top of the Cubs order coming up in the 8th inning, instead of using Nicasio, Hurdle called on Rivero for that high leverage situation.
Rivero got the job done however it took him 20 pitches to do so and because of that number of pitches, Hurdle didn’t bring him back for the 9th inning.
That’s where the criticism begins.
- Left-handed hitter Jason Heyward was the leadoff hitter in the ninth. Why not let Rivero face him and then bring in Nicasio?
- Considering the team was off Thursday and he wasn’t used Wednesday, why couldn’t Hurdle extend Rivero for two innings?
- Since it’s been working, why not just stay with using Nicasio in the 8th inning and Rivero in the 9th inning? If Nicasio gets in trouble, bring Rivero in early?
As you can imagine, this topic has been debated on Twitter and the radio since last night. PTN reached out to a few members of the Pittsburgh media to get their take on the controversial decision.
Andrew Fillipponi, 93,7 FM “The Fan”: “Last night’s 9th inning continues a trend of brain dead decisions made by the Pirates late in games. Even if you didn’t want a Rivero to get 6 outs, he should have pitched to Heyward to start the ninth. For me, he’s your best reliever and he’s rested, ask him to get the ninth too. Instead, here comes Tony Watson into an important game again. D-U-M-B.”
Will Graves, The Associated Press: “I have no problem with the decision because it’s in line with Clint’s thinking. He said when he “unplugged” Watson it would be a closer combo. He puts in his best left-handed reliever to face Chicago’s two most dangerous left handed bats and it worked. Nicasio had been very effective so far this season, most of the time coming in at the top of the inning. At least until last night.”