Pirates Broadcaster John Wehner Still Believes In Bucs Bullpen

Small sample size, a lot of season left to turn it around

The Fan Morning Show
April 23, 2019 - 11:18 am
Richard Rodriguez

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- Through 20 games of the 2019 season, the Pirates have battled injuries, blown late-game leads, won games late, have gotten excellent starting pitching and have had multiple players make their Major League debuts.

All told, they sit tied atop the NL Central going into play Tuesday with a 12-8 record. 

Pirates broadcaster John Wehner joined The Fan Morning Show at 9:30 am Tuesday for his weekly hit and talked about the Bucs' bullpen that has been rather shaky to start the year. 

"I still believe [Keone] Kela is elite and can set up. [Richard] Rodriguez isn't getting as much swing and miss, that's the only thing about him that I scratch my head a little bit. There's something different about his fastball this year than last year because last year it seemed like every batter swung and missed at two of his fastballs and this year they're not," said Wehner. "I still think he's effective enough and he's good enough to get the job done based on what I saw last year. I still have faith in those four guys (Vazquez, Kela, Crick, Rodriguez) they've had a couple hiccups and as a reliever it's easy to have some bad luck."

"There's times you throw a fastball down the middle and it's popped up to center field. It just so happens that those fastballs down the middle are getting hit out of the ballpark. It's not easy to do. It's not easy to give up home runs (at that pace). I think it was a bad stretch for both Kela and Rodriguez. I'm not making excuses, I'm basing all this off of what I saw last year and I still think they can get the job done. It's a pretty short sample, I don't know if they've made 10 appearances apiece so there's a lot of season left." 

Wehner doesn't feel like a completely healthy team means rookie shortstop Cole Tucker, called up from Indianapolis on Saturday, will go back down to the minors. 

"It's going to be interesting to see when [Kevin] Newman is healthy what they do there. They obviously had Newman ahead of Tucker coming out of Spring Training, rightfully so with Tucker not playing much in AAA. If you go the next week or 10 days and Tucker is still doing the things he's done, I mean he's fun to watch isn't he? This kid's athletic defensively, he swings the bat, he definitely has pop, that home run was impressive the other day. He's dynamic." 

"So you wonder, do you keep letting him run out there until he runs into a bit of a slump? I'm not sure what they do, I guess it depends on his play. I love watching the kid. He's a wonderful individual, too. He has an incredible personality. I think if he's hitting and he's pickin' it, I don't see how you can send him back. If he's hitting let's say .280 or .290 and he's hitting some balls out of the ballpark and he's playing the defense that he's played so far, that's a hard decision for a team that's near the top of the division to send that back." 

Related: Tucker Excited for Opportunity with Pirates

By the way, if you run into John make sure you ask about his latest mock draft. When asked about who the Steelers were going to take in the first round this year, Rock said he "couldn't care less" about the draft, that it is the most over-covered thing in sports and that overall, the heightened interest in it is "dumb." 

Check out his fiery response about it along with the entire interview on The Fan Morning Show below.                      

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