8-26-21 By Craig W. Toth (aka @bucsbasement on Twitter)
As I sat there watching the first six and a half innings of the Pirates game versus the Cardinals on Thursday night, the game recap I was scheduled to write began to develop in my mind; and for the most part it had a somewhat familiar storyline to games I had penned throughout the 2021 season. Pirates starter struggles and gets hit hard in the beginning, insert batter here has a big hit in an attempt to make things interesting and the bullpen battles to keep it from turning into a laugher.
Of course the narrative of this game would take a dramatic turn in the next half inning, changing the outcome in the process. Still, I can’t help but get stuck in the original picture that existed in my head. Sure, I am happy that the Pirates got to Raise The Jolly Roger against the hated Red Birds, and obviously it’s nice to see a Battlin’ Buccos culture being built within the clubhouse; at least to a certain degree. However, when we as Pirates Fans say wins and losses don’t matter if our team loses a close one or gets shutout in orderly fashion, then why does this one in the grand scheme of things?
We are supposed to be watching certain players that could matter in the future; hoping they perform well win or lose. We don’t want these wins to come on the backs of Gregory Polanco, Wilmer Difo and yes even Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. We are supposed to be looking for a turnaround from Mitch Keller and contributions from Bryan Reynolds, Ke’Bryan Hayes and maybe Colin Moran-the later, which we saw in this game.
I am sorry if this sounds a little jaded, and not the piece you were looking for in an unlikely come from behind victory from our Pirates. I just can’t turn off the concerns that continue arise in Keller’s game, I have a hard time believing in Michael Chavis after only 17 at bats, or Tsutsugo with 21, in a Pittsburgh uniform because we have been there before (see Phillip Evans and John Nogowski) and it’s difficult for me to get excited about a 28 year old pitcher, with one year of arbitration remaining, potentially having a successful transition to the bullpen; although I guess it could increase his trade value, which is probably not what many of you want to hear.
The Pirates won 11-7 and that makes me happy in the short term, as it always will. Nevertheless, I can’t take my eyes off the future because that’s where I have been told the real treasure lies.
News and Notes
- Since returning from Triple-A Indianapolis Mitch Keller has posted a 6.20 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP, with one solid outing against the Cardinals last week-5IP/6H/0ER/1BB/6K-mixed in with what has unfortunately become more of the norm for the young hurler. Last night Keller had an average velocity on his fastball of 92.4 mph, down 1.7 from his yearly average. And with the location it is hard to say he was hitting his marks.
- Colin Moran is a guy that many Pirates have already replaced with the next big down in the Minors, yet, I am not inclined to move on from him just yet; and have even considered a little bit of an extension for the 28 year old first baseman, as he has developed into a pretty solid all around batter-113 and 112 wRC+ over the past two seasons-with some pop.
- Chad Kuhl has the opportunity to show his versatility, in the rotation and out of the pen. I have seen questions about how much value Kuhl could build in a little over a month of relief work, which immediately made me think of Drew Pomeranz back in 2019 with the Milwaukee Brewers. That year he turned 25 appearances and 26.1 innings in the last two months of the season into 4 years and $34 million. Kuhl has yet to be as dominant as Pomeranz was at the end of 2019, but the opportunity is there.
- Hours after speaking to reporters about being jeered by Pirates Fans on Wednesday night for a fielding gaffe, Gregory Polanco went 3 for 5, including a go ahead double in the bottom of the 7th. Once again, this means nothing for the future of the club, but good for Greg anyway.
- And just in case anyone missed Yoshi’s icing on the cake homer-which also might not mean much moving forward-here it is.
This evening at 7:05 PM EST from PNC Park, Pittsburgh will look to continue their ruining of the Cardinals’ playoff hopes as Dillon Peters (0-1, 1.86 ERA) toes the rubber for his third start with the Pirates. For the Cardinals, J.A. Happ (7-6, 5.88 ERA) hopes his overall dominance of your Buccos resumes in this outing.