The Pirates have apparently signed two more left handed pitchers on minor league deals. And I think it creates a nice competition for the second left hander spot in the bullpen.
One is Cory Luebke, and I don't think much will come of this one. It is a flyer on a guy who once looked to be top of the rotation stuff in San Diego. He was extremely successful with a high K rate and low BB rate in 2011. He began in the pen, but had 17 pretty good starts. He started 2012 well enough, but had Tommy John surgery missing the rest of that season and the next. In 2014 he tore his UCL and had to have another surgery missing that season and 2015. He did pitch from the bullpen in 2011 and probably with his injury history is looking for a bullpen slot now.
Two is Eric O'Flaherty, who has pitched from the pen for the Mariners, Braves, and A's. He had Tommy John surgery in 2013. He was DFA'd by the A's this past year after a pretty poor showing. Still, he is a sinker ball pitcher in the low 90's with a four seamer, slider, and change up that is mid 80's. He had a disaster of a 2015 and it appeared to be related to a loss of control as his walks per 9 jumped from 1.8 in 2014 to 5.4 in 2015. If he can rediscover control he could be a replacement level pitcher in the bullpen that does low leverage situations. Not counting last year he has had a pretty steady positive WAR (reaching a peak of 3.3 in 2011)
This does liven up the bullpen fight for the last free spot. With Melancon, Watson, Hughes, Caminero, and Feliz set in stone in the bullpen, and Nicasio as close to certainty as one can get, it really only leaves one spot open. A spot that we know Hurdle likes to carry a second lefty that is not necessarily a Lefty Only Specialist. The only one who fit that bill before today was the unknown of Zarate. Now the Pirates have some competition for Zarate in Luebke and O'Flaherty. That is now the position to watch.
And it almost promises Holdzkom and Haley will be stashed in the minors.
Series Preview: Mets at Pirates
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