Same story, different day.
Stop me if you heard this one. The Pirates starting pitcher gave up a gopher ball to lead off the game and then the defense jumped in to make sure it got worse.
We’ll get back to more of what went wrong but let’s backtrack just a bit, all the way back to Spring Training.
First, I fully understand Chad Kuhl was away from camp and that stunted his process a bit, but overall the Pirates paid very little attention to getting the starters in a place where 5 or 6 innings would be a possibility. In fact back in 2020 Mr. Shelton bragged at how proud he was to have his pitchers stretched out to five innings, even as we watched the Indians starters go 7 or 8 in the tune up games. We knew this would be an issue, and it was. Here we are again, another Spring spent not focusing on getting the pitchers ready to provide some length and another season of everyone but the staff realizing this was an issue.
Just so you don’t think I’m picking on a bad start, I wrote about this being an issue I was concerned about WAAAAAY back in the first week of Spring.
The team philosophy has been to amass arms and they stated the probability of using upwards of 25 of them this season. OK I thought, I can see that, the team and hey all teams for that matter are going into the unknown a bit this year, but does that mean we can’t get the starters ready to give you five or six?
They stretched some of them out, Tyler Anderson, Chase De Jong, JT Brubaker to name the couple I can think of who actually started putting together something that resembled a start during camp. One of them didn’t even make the club as you know.
Now the season starts and you have Chad Kuhl who was built up to maybe 60 pitches if I’m being kind. Tyler Anderson who was looking ok for 80 or so, same for Brubaker. Cahill just arrived and got out a couple times, never more than 2 or 3 innings. Keller went as deep as 3, 4 if you count coming out and going back in.
Why not focus on setting them up to do the job they were assigned? I’d tell you it’s killing the bullpen but in reality it hardly matters by the time they hand it off to the pen. They’re tossing a ton of innings but honestly it’s garbage time.
Clay Holmes blew up yesterday, Chris Stratton today, and Feliz both days. Who cares? By the time any of them came in the game was long since out of hand. They just want contact and innings at that point, so who knows where they really are in their progression.
Save telling me that Feliz sucks or Holmes sucks, it’s really not the point. The point is Mariano Rivera wouldn’t come in down 10-0 and throw his best stuff with gusto.
The rotation wasn’t going to be good, that’s a fact that I defy you to show me anyone serious disputing all off season. But what the Pirates did this Spring is nothing short of setting them up for failure.
It’s a systemic failure, one that its far too late to correct. At this point they can only be stretched out by pitching during the regular season and that is going to require some of them wearing it.
The way things have started, it’s hard to see sticking with who they began with for long. Even if the record doesn’t matter this year, which it certainly doesn’t, nobody is going to learn or improve when the club is down by five after an inning or two every night.
Wil Crowe, Miguel Yajure, Chase De Jong and even the knuckleballing gimmick Wright will make their way up here soon if things don’t change and being that 3 of the five starters have little to no chance to be on this team past this season, maybe that’s how it should be anyway.
Sure hope they’re stretching them out at the training site, you know, learning lessons from the failures of the very recent past.
We’re six games in to the 2021 season and the Pirates are 1-5, that’s not a shock. The fact that everything they worked on and preached all Spring happen to be in a complete freefall is.
What I think we’re watching isn’t just a bad team. It’s a bad team that on top of needing to maximize the talent they have came into the season not prepared to put their best foot forward by simply not preparing some of their “arms” to give the club anything resembling a start.
If you want to know why I’m not spending a bunch of time feeding you a line about how encouraging the 9th inning was, it’s because it didn’t matter, in any way. They were down 11 and took advantage of a rusty closer in a VERY non save situation.
Time to find a way to reset the club, a home opener should help from a mentality standpoint, but it still won’t help them recover from the awful position management helped put them in from the jump.
News & Notes
- Chad Kuhl pitched a regrettable 1st inning then fought through 3 more but the starting pitching we all expected to see is certainly not outperforming.
- Wilmer Difo had 3 hits, normally that would be a beacon in an otherwise bleak landscape, unfortunately he had an inexcusable error in the first to make things worse than they already were and then made an error on the base path to fail to score on an extra base hit from second base.
- Phil Evans had a hit, but he too made a terrible play in LF allowing a 9th run to cross the plate, not that it mattered for much beyond simply noting it happened.
- Professional at bats remain few and far between, today Colin Moran was the only one who seemed to have an approach and he was held hitless.
- David Bednar even got in on the act giving up back to back solo shots.