9-8-21 By Craig W. Toth (aka @bucsbasement on Twitter)
The rest of this season for the Pittsburgh Pirates is a time for evaluation, much like the entire year has been; not only for the players that could be a part of an undetermined future date, but also those that can help bridge the gap for when the wave of prospects is scheduled to arrive. This extremely obvious by the way Pirates Fans, including myself, talk about players that are currently on the roster, as we evaluate performance.
During last night’s game, one in which Ben Gamel had three hits-including the eventual game winner-and made another highlight reel catch that potentially prevented the Tigers from extending their lead, some Pirates Fans on social media commented that he would make a solid 4th Outfielder. Now, I’m not saying I don’t agree with the sentiment, or believe that he wouldn’t be on a competitive team; however, as it currently stands he is our second best outfielder, and in turn our second best outfielder going into next season if the Pirates choose to tender him a contract by the arbitration deadline.
The potential first wave of outfielders are sitting in Altoona, with another potential member of that wave-Travis Swaggerty-on the shelf in Indianapolis. Sure, they’ve got some versatile players who can fill in the holes in right or left field-pretty much where Gamel isn’t-on any given day, but not one that can play there everyday; and they certainly don’t have two, to eventually relegate him to to the bench.
The same type of scenario goes for a conversation that myself, Gary and our friend Graves were having concerning Dillon Peters last night on Twitter. Some of us are more bullish on Peters, but as Gary pointed out, it has only been four games; and of course, last night wasn’t especially inspiring at times. In those four starts, Peters has pitched 18.2 innings, struck out 15 and posted a 3.38 ERA to go along with his 1.29 WHIP; the last two obviously being career bests that don’t even come close to matching up with his track record. Will he be any good? I don’t know. Will he revert back to his former self; the one he had been with the Angels and Marlins over the previous 4 seasons? It’s possible, and more likely assumption for a 29 year pitcher, who has yet experience success in the Majors.
All the same, the Pirates will more than likely look to fill out a 5 to 7-and seven might be generous-man rotation again next year. My hope is that they would look to add another Tyler Anderson type free agent in the off-season, but neither Chad Kuhl nor Steven Brault have been the picture of health, and are not guaranteed to be back; plus Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker and Max Kranick’s consistency is a big question mark. So, once again they will be looking for fillers; one of which-Peters-they may have already found.
Obviously, none of these conversations regarding players that can bridge gaps, or fill holes, is particularly exciting, especially when it doesn’t necessarily bring the Pirates any closer to competing. Yet, these are the discussions that will continue to happen until Pittsburgh is hopefully on the verge of competing again.
News and Notes
- The Pirates left 14 men on base, and were 2 for 13 with Runners In Scoring Position. This is clearly not the recipe for continued success, but it was good enough for a 3-2 victory over the Tigers.
- Ke’Bryan Hayes is “back again”. Any time Hayes has a couple of good games in a row, Pirates Fans begin to pine for that month stretch he had back in September of 2020. Is Hayes a really good player? Yes. Was he always going to be the starting third baseman for the Pirates? Yes, almost without question. Has Hayes ever been anything more than a .270+ hitter, with an .OPS around .750 with 5 to 10 homers on average in his entire professional career? No. Is that a bad thing? No, Hayes is a good ball player.
- David Bednar made his appearance in the 8th inning of last night’s game with the heart of the Tigers lineup due up as the Pirates clinging to a one run lead, and I am here for it. Anyone who knows me, knows my opinion of the closer role in baseball. Up by a certain amount of runs, 9th inning, game on the line, entrance music blaring over the PA System and your best reliever, who no one can touch, enters to a sea of screaming fans. The theater of this situation is pretty cool; I’m not gonna lie. But, the number of times that it happens in a season, and the limited scenarios where the fate of the game is actually on the line, makes it overdone and overplayed. A situation, like the one last night, is much more likely in the 6th, 7th or 8th inning. Use your best relief pitcher-in this case Bednar-and make sure your team is still in a spot to win; not just wait around for the perfect set of circumstances.
- And clearly, the decision to use Bednar in the 8th and Chris Stratton in the 9th worked, for those who were ready to crucify Derek Shelton for yet another pitching change blunder. Stratton is your second best reliever; he should be able to handle the 9th as well; particularly against the back of the order.
- The Pirates have yet to complete a sweep, not even a two game “series”, at any point this season. Yes, the Pirates are bad, but so are a lot of other teams. Even they have have been able to experience some sort of extended success over at least a few games. Maybe that’s why this season feels so long.
The Pirates and Tigers have one more 6:35 PM EST tonight from PNC Park before they each get a day off.
For Pittsburgh, Mitch Keller (4-10, 6.23 ERA) looks to make it two straight solid starts, while Matt Manning (3-6, 6.29 ERA) takes the mound for Detroit.