MILWAUKEE -- Mark Melancon has continued Jason Grilli's exceptional work in the closer's role. However, as the Pirates feared when Grilli was injured and Melancon had to vacate his setup duties, the impact on the eighth inning has been greater.
Looking to find some help for rookies Bryan Morris and Justin Wilson, who inherited a lot of the extra load, manager Clint Hurdle thinks he may have found it in Jeanmar Gomez. The presence of Stolmy Pimentel, promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis, frees Gomez for heavier lifting.
The underrated hero of the bullpen, Gomez has excelled in a variety of roles, from starting to short, long or middle relief. In 27 games, he is 3-0 with a 3.11 ERA, and even that is misleading, since five of the 25 earned runs he has allowed came in a bad one-third of an inning against St. Louis.
"I plan to get him a more meaningful role in the back of the bullpen. He has shown the ability to pitch all over the place," said Hurdle, curious about whether Pimentel can handle Gomez's role.
The 23-year-old Dominican righty, who came from Boston in the Joel Hanrahan deal, has pitched in relief in only five of his 152 Minor League games, none the last two years. In 27 starts this season between Double-A and Triple-A, Pimentel went 6-9 with a 3.35 ERA.
Asked whether he was confident Pimentel could pitch relief, Hurdle said, "No. He's going to have to, though."
"I think he can," Hurdle added. "Guy like that, you just have to make sure he gets [to start an] inning, and ample time to warm up."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.