STATE COLLEGE, Pa -- Before Melky Cabrera's heroics, before Jacob Stallings' bases loaded wizardry and before Kevin Newman's unassuming walk-off strut to first, there were six innings of uneven Pirates bullpen performance to be found in the eventual' 11-10 extra-inning victory over the Padres on Sunday.
This particular contest had all the trappings of a typical Pirates win in 2019. Good-enough starting pitching gives way to shaky middle-relief work while all the while the team waits for the run production attack to kick in.
Everyone knows that Felipe Vazquez and Kyle Crick have been very effective throughout their 2019 campaigns. It is the performance of the table-setters before them that have brought the unit down to carrying the sixth-worst wOBA in the majors at .346. Other peripherals are just as unkind, with the relief corps ranking 26th in Fangraphs' WAR at -0.1, 27th in BB% at 11.1 percent and 25th in fly-ball rate at 37.8 percent.
Here are three quick fixes for the middle relief that might just serve as enough of a salve to properly support the back-end, to say nothing of the suddenly potent offense.