ST. LOUIS -- Embroiled in a vigorous battle in the standings over the latter stages of the season, the Pirates have been playing high-stakes games for some time now. Outs, particularly at the end of games, have been at a premium. So with that being the case, it's fairly remarkable that manager Clint Hurdle could make this statement about his relievers on Wednesday afternoon:
"For Oct. 2," Hurdle said, "it's as well-rested a bullpen as you can have."
The Bucs had a workout Wednesday at Busch Stadium, after knocking off the Reds in Tuesday's National League Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh. Prior to that, the Pirates hadn't played since Sunday. Pittsburgh also had an off-day last Thursday, before its season-ending series against Cincinnati.
"The bullpen is fresh," Hurdle said. "We're in a good place out there, a very good place. Our guys are ready to go, so we're looking forward to just the freshness of it, so we don't have that carrying any kind of issues. Couple days, nobody's tight, nobody's sore."
Despite holding onto a four-run lead in the ninth on Tuesday, Hurdle elected to go to closer Jason Grilli to seal the Wild Card win. He threw a 1-2-3 inning in what was his first outing since Friday.
Setup man Mark Melancon has pitched just once (Saturday) since Sept. 23, and appeared in just 11 games in September. Tony Watson threw one inning Tuesday, and Justin Wilson last appeared on Saturday.
"Our guys have definitely logged our fair share of work, but it's no different from anybody else this time of year," Grilli said. "It's September, October -- we're riding the highs of what this is. It doesn't matter. We're all feeling good. And the adrenaline, as tired as we are, as anybody is, if you're getting to the postseason, the adrenaline wipes and erases away the feeling of being tired."
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. Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.