Five Pirates Thoughts at Five 5-31-21

Good afternoon, and happy Memorial Day! Today is about so much more than the beginning of Summer or grilling up some dogs, at least take a moment today to close your eyes for a second and really think about the sacrifices made to keep us safe and free.

1. What’s This Rotation Going to Look like?

So with Chase De Jong getting a shot, and specifically a decent look as per Ben Cherington, for the foreseeable future he’s part of it. Have to figure Keller and Brubaker stick. Chad Kuhl is back too. Anderson is still around. So does this spell an option for Wil Crowe? Maybe Cahill is released upon returning from the IL? One place this club actually has moving parts from AAA and they’ve chosen to use one who doesn’t in De Jong. Nice start yesterday out of the 27 year old and as I’ve reminded people several times, he may be old to get his career really going, but his years of control are intact, so if the Bucs have found a guy who can help for half a decade, hey that’s great.

Another possibility is for the Pirates to go with a 6 man rotation, or piggyback a couple guys, hey, Kuhl or Cahill could just be bullpen pieces now. Interesting times, and I’m really curious as to how they handle it.

2. Don’t Fear Trades

When you look at this team, the shortcomings are really hard to miss. When they get healthy some of them will be obscured a bit, but moving more players for assets is and has been part of the plan from the jump. Justin and Joe have done a great job illustrating how these things are thought through and the types of returns that could be out there.

You aren’t wrong either for thinking at some point they need to decide someone stays, someone starts the new ‘core’. Looking around the NL Central, I’d suggest the window better be open in 2024 or they’ll be right in the middle of two other teams coming out of the darkness at the same time. They can’t make development too much faster, but they can keep some talent in place to get there if they so choose.

3. Well Executed Small Ball

The Pirates played the kind of baseball they want to play against the Rockies this weekend taking 2 out of 3, and a big theme was small ball. They moved runners over and had some timely hitting. That’s what they’re looking to do most nights, but it’s worth noting, the two they won came with home runs, while the one they lost did not.

Small ball is cute, and when you’re desperate its sometimes the only option, but make no mistake, this team isn’t single handedly changing how runs are scored in this league, and the long ball is not going away.

Having Ke’Bryan Hayes back and the threat he brings will change the dynamic of this offense. Even if he doesn’t hit 25, the mere presence of his bat in the lineup will open doors for others.

4. It Was Bound to Happen

Richard Rodriguez blew his first save of the season yesterday, and you could almost feel it coming. Part of what makes him so good is even while hitters know what’s coming, they just can’t seem to catch up with it. Well, something changed yesterday. I wouldn’t say he was doing anything terribly different, but he clearly was missing some aspect of deceptiveness because swing and misses turned into foul offs and ultimately getting barreled up after 16 pitches to the Rockies two best hitters.

It’s incredible he’s gotten this much mileage out of one pitch and the Pirates haven’t pushed him to figure out his slider, but maybe at some point they should. Good hitters are going to figure him out, and if he slips even just a little like yesterday, the results won’t be great.

5. Kyle Crick is Off Again

After a sincerely tremendous start to 2021, Crick again looks like he can’t control his stuff, and he’s added a new mental block now, apparently he can no longer face right handed hitters.

Kyle is talented, but since his first year with the Pirates he’s had one problem or another, and every time it’s a big enough issue that he can’t be trusted in the back end.

Again, he was very good early on, but its not like he was just missing spots. Against left handed batters, he was pinpoint. Against right handed batters, he had no idea where the ball was going, period. Throw a baseball that hard, and couple that with not knowing where it goes, my friends, that is a dangerous thing.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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