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Jason Grilli returning to closer role for Pirates

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

After seven tune-up appearances, Jason Grilli is the Pirates closer once again.
After seven tune-up appearances, Jason Grilli is the Pirates closer once again. (USATSI)

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The Pirates opted to ease Jason Grilli back into things after he returned from the DL earlier this month, but manager Clint Hurdle confirmed the team is ready to put him back into the closer's role on Monday.

"We're going back to the way was for three and a half months, before Jason got hurt," said Hurdle to Tom Singer of MLB.com. That means Grilli in the ninth inning and fill-in closer Mark Melancon in the eighth.

Grilli, 36, missed a little more than six weeks with forearm discomfort. He has allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out eight in six innings since returning. Before the injury, he went 30-for-31 in save chances with a 2.34 ERA.

During Grilli's absence, Melancon went 14-for-17 in save opportunities with a 2.08 ERA. He has blown each of his last two save chances though, allowing five runs in 1 2/3 total innings. Melancon had a 0.95 ERA in 47 1/3 innings as Grilli's setup man before the injury.

The Pirates came into Monday with an 89-67 record, their first winning season since 1992. They are two games back of the Cardinals for the top spot in the NL Central with a week to play.

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