The Vulture Club: Bucs bullpen can carry that tune
The Shark Tank is so last year.
Say hello to The Vulture Club.
The Pirates’ bullpen doesn’t have a Boy George, but it does have a lead singer: Tony Watson, whose four victories match the TOTAL of the Pittsburgh rotation. Back-up singers include Bryan Morris (3-0) and Jared Hughes, who within his first six appearances had two wins — or two more than Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton have combined for in 17 starts.
The bullpen “vulture” is a baseball tradition, with the pioneer having been the Bucs’ very own ElRoy Face in 1959, when he was in the right place at the right time to post a ridiculous 18-1 record.
And it was mainlined by Phil Regan, a Dodgers reliever of the mid-‘60s who earned the official nickname of The Vulture.
However, few teams have had a Vulture Club to compare to these Bucs, whose relievers had 13 wins through 39 games — compared to the rotation’s total of four.
A big part of the reason: Clint Hurdle’s MO of essentially limiting starters to six innings (barring unusually-low pitch counts) combined with the Bucs’ late-scoring offense; they’ve scored 43 percent of their runs in the seventh-or-later.
But another reason is just good-old-fashioned vulturing. The Bucs have led after six innings in seven games. Relievers got the win in four of those, too.