Yesterday, Buster Olney posted his top ten rotations in the majors, ranking the Pirates seventh overall. He moved on to the bullpens today and the Pirates again ranked in the top ten, though this list turned out very different than yesterday’s group.
Just like yesterday, there is both good and bad with the rankings. Olney has the Pirates rated eighth overall(subscription required), mostly due to the trio of Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes. He also likes the signing of Neftali Feliz, noting the Pirates’ ability to identify bullpen weaknesses and address them.
One other good thing about the bullpen list is the fact that he ranks the Pirates as the third best team in the National League. Yesterday’s list was one team away from being all NL teams in the top nine. For the bullpens, six of the top nine teams are from the American League.
So you can then gather from that split that the Pirates must be considered one of the best overall pitching staffs in baseball, since there are so many different teams on the two lists.
That brings us to the bad. Both the Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals are ahead of the Pirates on the bullpen list, just like they were on the rotation list. So while the Pirates rank as one of the best pitching staffs in baseball from top to bottom, it is clear to Buster Olney that they rank third in their own division.
Going with a combined list, only the Indians and Red Sox would be considered on par with any of the three NL Central teams. The Indians were near the top for rotations and just missed the top ten for bullpen, while the Red Sox were near the top for bullpens and just missed for rotations.