CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

With Capps out, others need to step up

With Capps out, others need to step up

PITTSBURGH -- When the Pirates open up a brief two-game series in St. Louis with an 8:15 p.m. ET game on Wednesday, they'll do so without the benefit of having closer Matt Capps at the back of the bullpen.

Capps, who has a bruise on the bone in his right elbow as well as some fluid there, is out for the series, which leaves the closing duties to Tyler Yates and John Grabow.

Much as the case was last summer when Capps missed almost two months with a shoulder injury, manager John Russell will not designate someone specifically to assume the closer's role. Instead, he'll use Yates and Grabow depending on the matchup that presents itself.

More

Grabow recorded four saves for the Pirates last year, while Yates had one.

"John and Tyler did a nice job last year at stepping in and filling the void," Russell said. "They both obviously have good enough stuff to do it. We got two guys down there who we feel very confident in. I think we'll be OK."

While Grabow and Yates would normally seem to be reliable options, both have hit a bit of a lull recently.

After not giving up a run in his first six appearances this season, Grabow has been knocked around in his past four. He has allowed four earned runs on seven hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings over that span. It's an uncharacteristic stretch for Grabow, who only once last season allowed runs in consecutive games.

"It's not mechanical," Grabow said. "I'm 100 percent healthy. It's just one of those stretches that you go through. Hopefully, I can just minimize it and get back on the right track. It's all a matter of getting a few good outings in a row and getting your confidence back and getting on a roll again."

With Yates, it's his control that's always the question. He came into Tuesday's game with a 7.56 ERA, the highest in the 'pen, and with only one more strikeout than walk. A perfect inning of relief on Tuesday, though, was certainly a step forward for the right-hander.

The inconsistency from Grabow and Yates, coupled with Capps' recent struggles, has led to some bumpy late-innings stretches lately.

"Last year, we all started off pretty hot, and this year, we tried to do that," Grabow said. "It just hasn't worked out that way. But we all stick together pretty good. We have each other's back. We're going to ride this thing out and eventually turn it around and get going in the right direction."

With Capps out, the Pirates will face St. Louis with only six available relievers. Donnie Veal, one of those six, is only being used in blowout situations, meaning that essentially Pittsburgh has five arms to rely upon. As a result, Evan Meek, Jesse Chavez and Sean Burnett may have to be thrust into setup roles.

Pitching matchup
PIT: LHP Zach Duke (3-2, 2.21 ERA)
Duke has now made five starts in 2009 and four of them have been absolutely outstanding. Throw out the six-run outing against Atlanta on April 19 and the left-hander has given up just three earned runs over 30 2/3 innings in those four starts. That's an ERA of 0.88.

STL: RHP Mitchell Boggs (1-0, 3.29 ERA)
Just two starts into his 2009 Cardinals campaign, the rookie right-hander is already making a mighty big impression. After coming up from Triple-A Memphis on April 15 after former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter went on the DL, Boggs made his first start against the Cubs April 26, allowing one unearned run in 5 2/3 innings and getting the nod from manager Tony La Russa to make at least one more start. He closed out the team's 16-7 April by striking out a career-high nine batters over six innings in an April 30 no-decision against Washington in an outing La Russa termed "outstanding."

Bucs bits
Reliever Craig Hansen (neck spasms) has still not progressed to where he can throw off the mound. Hansen is eligible to come off the disabled list as soon as he's ready. ... Delwyn Young's two-run double in the eighth gave the Pirates their first RBIs by a pinch-hitter this season. ...The Triple-A Indianapolis club swiped nine bases in a loss on Monday night. The nine stolen bases set a record at Victory Field, the club's home park. ... This upcoming series against the Cardinals marks the last trip the Pirates will make to St. Louis all season. The Cardinals visit PNC Park on three different occasions later this year.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN-HD

On radio
• WPGB-FM 104.7

Up next
• Thursday: Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf, 3-2, 3.48) at Cardinals (Todd Wellemeyer, 2-2, 5.28), 1:40 p.m. ET
• Friday: Pirates (Jeff Karstens, 1-1, 5.85) at Mets (Ken Takahashi, 0-0, 0.00), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Pirates (Paul Maholm, 3-0, 2.97) at Mets (John Maine, 2-2, 5.20), 1:10 p.m. ET

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less
{}
{}