As this season has progressed I’ve struggled to understand many of Derek Shelton’s decisions. I’ve questioned his lineups, when he pulls pitchers, why he doesn’t like certain players. Some are right there with me asking why seemingly every inning brings more problems, others want to dismiss it all as not trying to win or decisions coming from the top. Another popular angle is that this is only a 60 game season, how could you question anything?
Well fair or unfair, I’m asking a few.
Let’s begin with tonight’s starter Joe Musgrove. He legit has good stuff, should we assume he’d be more on track if not for injury? Here’s the good, Musgrove has five pitches and he has good control of all of them. Tonight that added up to 8 strikeouts in five innings of work. Through all his injuries and difficulties since he’s been a Pirate one thing has plagued him more than any one other issue, he falls prey to the bad inning.
I won’t go so far as to say it’s every game, but it’s pretty close. For some reason he just runs into issues in one inning, maybe he gets mad at a walk, or the umpire’s strike zone. Perhaps it was poor defense behind him, maybe a soft serve hit. Perhaps like tonight it was just not fooling anyone on his curveball which he hung repeatedly early on.
No matter what, Joe only goes as far as that handicap allows, he’ll never be more than an inning eater at best if he can’t find a way to avoid blowing up so regularly. Tonight that happened in the first as the Reds jumped all over him and then he lost control to make matters worse.
As you know I tend to avoid blow by blow reporting for these game and this needn’t be much different. The first inning wasn’t about hitters being extraordinarily patient, or missing by a foot, just not hitting his spots, wild in the zone if you will and it spotted the Reds three runs off the bat.
Next up, Why wasn’t Blake Cederlind already here? He looked so good tonight making his MLB debut. I understand if it was COVID related or whatever but this bullpen could have used a guy who could throw 98 and hit his spots long ago. Instead we have filtered and suffered through Miguel DelPozo, Yacksiel Rios, Dovydas Neverauskas, and a cast of characters that would compare to The Muppet Show. He couldn’t have changed things all by himself, but for a time there, RIchard Rodriguez and Geoff Hartlieb were the only arms from the right side you would feel semi confident in.
Hey better late than never I suppose, regardless when he came in for the sixth inning he made quick work of the three batters he faced.
How about Gregory Polanco? I understand the Pirates are stuck with him next season, really I do. But he strikes out almost 50% of the time, quite literally can’t hit anything in the upper third or the outer third. When I say can’t hit, I mean can’t touch it. The next pitcher that throws Gregory a pitch not in those locations deserves his picture in Websters next to Fool.
So why does Polanco get such a long leash? More to the point, why would you prefer to continue watching someone self destruct at the plate than either Martin, Osuna or Oliva? I mean we already discussed that we have no choice really on Greg, so why waste the at bats right now on a guy who just can’t hit?
Derek Holland has been really good since heading to the bullpen and tonight he continued that by pitching another two scoreless innings, made it look easy too. Why didn’t they make this move much earlier? He has added velocity since the move and looks dominant. More importantly, why can’t they see the same thing could be true for Trevor Williams? 2 of the PIrates best 3 or 4 starts in the past two weeks have been from Cody Ponce, yet he continues to go back down after each one, Why?
Earlier in the game Hayes doubled and Bell singled him in but aside from that the Pirates once again were dormant at the plate, well until the 9th. What is that about? You can say they don’t quit but whatever approach they have in the 9th, how about bringing it to earlier in the games? This one is probably just dumb luck but it sure is weird.
Tonight the Bucs would stage a rally in the 9th again. Bell and Polanco (walk) would reach base against Amir Garrett after Colin Moran was robbed of a solo shot by Goodwin. Down to their last out, Shelton pinch hit Newman for JT Riddle who is another question himself. Newman would pop out to end the game.
4-1 Reds. Finale tomorrow.
News & Notes
- Blake Cederlind made his MLB debut tonight in the 6th inning, pitching a 1-2-3 scoreless inning and hitting 98 on the gun.
- Joe Musgrove only went 5 innings tonight, but he managed to strike out 8. Still just not good enough for what Musgrove was supposed to be for this club in 2020 and beyond.
- Derek Holland pitched two more scoreless innings of relief and looked really good doing it.