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David Bednar Returning to Form When Pirates Need it Most



Pittsburgh Pirates, David Bednar

PITTSBURGH — To start the season, David Bednar didn’t look anything like the pitcher that was named a National League All-Star in back-to-back seasons.

Through his first seven appearances, Bednar had a disastrous 13.50 ERA and blew three of his first four save opportunities. Things got so bad that boos rained down on Bednar from his hometown fans at PNC Park after he squandered a ninth-inning lead against the Detroit Tigers on Apr. 9.

The height of Bednar’s struggles came on Apr. 17 against the Mets in New York when he was tagged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning and was pulled after throwing his 30th pitch.

Since then, Bednar is starting to show signs of his former self.

The 29-year-old has pitched three-straight days for the Pirates. All three of those outings have been scoreless and Bednar converted the save in back-to-back wins over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday and Tuesday.

After missing most of spring training due to a lat injury, Bednar seems to be getting back up to speed.

“He didn’t have a regular spring training,” manager Derek Shelton said after Bednar closed out Tuesday’s win. “We started him at the beginning of the year, even on the first day of the season, he wasn’t available just because of his lack of work in spring training. I think the last two days are the best curveballs we’ve seen. So now we’re seeing him get back on track. He’s been able to spin it. He even spun one to Hoskins that I think was a ball, but it was probably the best one he’s thrown in a while.”

It was at least somewhat surprising to hear ‘Renegade’ blast from the speakers at PNC Park as Bednar trotted in from the bullpen. Last season, the Pirates were cautious about using Bednar in three-straight games.

Coming off of the injury, it would make sense if they were again hesitant to use Bednar in back-to-back-to-back games, but that wasn’t the case thanks to a collaborative effort.

“I felt good, and ultimately, making that decision with the staff and everybody,” Bednar said. “I gave them the green light and told them I felt good and went out and did it.”

Bednar’s resurgence could not have come at a better time.

Aroldis Chapman, who some suggested should replace Bednar, at least for the time being, has been hindered by poor control. Over his last five outings, Chapman has issued more walks (nine) than he’s recorded outs (eight).

“It looks like he’s just moving a little fast,” Shelton said after Chapman walked three batters on Monday. “This guy is a veteran, he’s done it. It looks like he is rushing his delivery. He got Weimer out to start the inning and it’s like he went back to get more and we know he doesn’t have to go back to get more. It’s just slowing him down a little bit.”

Given the Pirates recent struggles, every lead matters. The Pirates had dropped six games in a row prior to two-straight wins to start their series against the Brewers.

Getting both Bednar and Chapman back on track at the same time would give the Pirates exactly what they envisioned when they brought in the veteran flamethrower as a free agent this winter. So far, they’ve only been able to rely on one at a time.

For now, the Pirates will gladly welcome back their two-time All-Star after he metaphorically disappeared to start the year.

More importantly, they’ll gladly welcome a few wins.

“I think just take it one day at a time and how you’re able to do that is just kind of win series,” Bednar said. “Take it one day at a time and one series at a time and kind of look up at the end of the month and get a good month together and stack that throughout the year.”

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