Bullpen getting its share of work

Bullpen getting its share of work

PITTSBURGH -- Though they have won three of five games since the All-Star break, the Pirates had to rely heavily on the bullpen to seal those victories.

Manager John Russell called on his relievers for 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday's win, upping the bullpen's inning count in the last five days to 21 1/3. That total could be much higher, too, had starter Paul Maholm not gone the distance in his outing on Sunday. And as it is, it's only two fewer innings than have been logged by the starters.

Evan Meek, Brendan Donnelly and Javier Lopez have each pitched four of the last five days, while Joel Hanrahan and D.J. Carrasco have appeared three times. Carrasco has logged the most innings with seven.

To this point, though, Russell said he has no concerns about the sudden heavy workload of some of the team's most valuable late-inning arms.

"We can't keep doing it, but so far, no," Russell said. "The guys have still gotten their rest. We go around and talk to them. They're pretty honest. We've got a pretty good feel for our guys now. We know how much rest they need, how much you can push them."

Lopez currently leads the club with 45 appearances, though his 34 1/3 innings of work are less than that of Carrasco, Meek, Hanrahan and Octavio Dotel. Meek and Carrasco currently rank second in the National League with 52 2/3 relief innings.

"We monitor pretty well," Russell said. "Knowing our guys and what they're capable of, and what we can push them to, and what they're going to ask us to push him to, that's just something with the way you handle your bullpen."