Roansy Contreras Shows Glimpse of His Arsenal; Bucs Fall 3-2 to Chicago

9-29-21 – By Gary Morgan @garymo2007 on Twitter

No matter what happened, no matter who did what, this game was always going to be about the few innings the Pirates brass allowed Roansy Contreras to pitch as he made his Pirates debut, at PNC Park no less.

The Pirates number 6 prospect has thrown all of 3.2 innings in AAA, largely due to time missed nursing an elbow issue so to say his callup was a bit unexpected is close to an understatement.

Heading into this one the Pirates put him on a 65 pitch limit and he put up 3 scoreless, touching 97-98 on the gun and breaking off nasty sliders. The first inning was a bit shaky, and honestly it was good to see how he fought through it to keep the Cubs off the board.

All in all, a very successful debut for Contreras and while it wasn’t a long night, it was indeed positive. And this is a big reason why, he has a 20 MPH velocity difference in his off speed and fastball, with this kind of release point map.

When everything looks like it’s coming from the same spot then does something completely different, man that’s a thing of beauty. It’s always fun to see the kids come up and do it on the biggest stage in the world, especially when they look like they belong from the jump. Next year he’ll have more opportunity, more growth and who knows, maybe even many more nights on a big league mound.

Speaking of, how about Bryan Reynolds who is on an absolute tear right now, gunning for milestones. This one got him to .299 and damn near 25 HR.

The Bucs would come out of the 6th with a slim 2-1 lead and then Chasen Shreve and Nick Mears allowed the Cubs to retake the lead on this blast by their Contreras.

The score stayed 3-2 Cubs through the 8th and Kyle Keller was called upon to keep the Cubbies there in the 9th. He made it one hell of an adventure but got the Pirates to the bottom of the 9th down one with a shot to steal one.

Alas the Cubbies closed it out and the Bucs spoil Roansy night 3-2.

News & Notes

  • Roansy Contreras is the highest ranked prospect (6) to make his Pittsburgh debut since Mitch Keller did the same in 2019.
  • The Brewers Devin Williams will miss the rest of the season. Injuring himself punching a wall in celebration. What a blow for the Brew Crew.
  • Bryan Reynolds was named team MVP, I know shocker.
  • David Bednar was named the Steve Blass Pitcher of the Year.
  • Jacob Stallings was named the best with the media, for whatever that’s worth. He’s always good for some nice quotes.
  • Ke’Bryan Hayes was placed on the IL today, he’s been experiencing pain in his wrist, but in a different spot than the previous injury so his season is effectively over. His 2021 ends with a 2.3 WAR with a .257 Average and an OPS of .689. As rookie seasons go, not so bad. Take his injury time and plop in his 2020 numbers and it looks a whole lot more like a true complete work and probably more representative of the player. 4.2 WAR, .280 Average and an OPS of .772. You’ll take that 7 days a week and twice on Sunday folks. Still very positive on this kid even if he isn’t Ted Williams.
  • Roansy was the corresponding move for Ke’Bryan Hayes today so the Pirates will want a replacement player, I wouldn’t be completely shocked if it was Cruz or Castro. Either one have been good in AAA since the call up.
  • That’s loss number 99, brace yourselves for I told you so’s on the old social scene.

Why Roansy? Why Now?

9-29-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Hey, first things first, I’m not complaining.

I wanted to see the Pirates do something like this as opposed to continuing to trot out bullpen games and pretending limping through the finish line would be enough. Now, I thought Roansy wasn’t going to be an option, both because of his injury this season and the fact he’d barely played in AAA.

So, the why now question is pretty easy, they needed an arm, one that hadn’t hit his innings limit, and dare I say, one that fans might actually want to see. That’s a little too Disney feel good for me if I’m honest, but the fact is, without that factor this realistically doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Another factor is that he’s a 40-man member and don’t glaze past this one. Options are limited and for once this is an easy choice. Really look at the other options in AAA, James Marvel? Maybe? That’s a guy who could easily come up here but let’s assume they actually want a real contribution, which one do you have more faith in getting a 5 inning performance out of?

I really can’t do a better job of explaining why at this point, even if someone asks they’ll simply say they wanted to get the kid a taste of MLB, might even go as far as to say he’s earned it.

Now, you want to guess as to what it could mean? Tell you what, this could easily be a signal that Contreras being in the mix this Spring isn’t 100% out of the question. I’ll be blunt that’s not something I considered even in the realm of possibility. Not because he isn’t talented enough, simply thought it was a bit too early.

No doubt I’m getting too far in front of myself, it’s just one start after all, but this isn’t a guy they don’t care about, so everything they do with him matters to some degree. Everything they do with him deserves examination because one day it’ll be part of the record that led to his success or failure and that’s interesting.

We also must keep ourselves from going nuts regardless of how he does in this start. If he kills it, it doesn’t make him a lock next Spring, if he gets killed it doesn’t make him another failure. I get the impression that a full season of anointing him the next great hope will buy him a fan base that gives him the benefit of doubt. That said, for every dumb take there is someone willing to speak it.

Lastly, enjoy this. There haven’t been many instances of call ups this season including prospects who matter. This is one. and it should be a whole lot of fun, despite the performance coming in defense of avoiding that 99th loss this year.

It’s not make or break to be sure, but it is an honest to god look at the future. For one night, let go, sit back and watch a real talent showcase what he has on the biggest stage he’s ever performed.

There’s only one day left in September and it finally feels like September.

Pirates Win After An Appearance From The So-Called Bad Mitch Keller

9-29-21 By Craig W. Toth (aka @bucsbasement on Twitter)

I’ve written and said almost everything I possibly could about the journey of Mitch Keller; from former top prospect in all of Major League Baseball to polarizing starter for your Pittsburgh Pirates.

At the end of 2020 when Keller went on his 11 inning no-hit streak, it was the 10 walks to 9 strikeouts that my focus was drawn to. Then back in May and June, before he was optioned to Triple-A , I suggested a move to the bullpen to pick and choose the situations he would brought in to and the parts of the lineup he would face. Following his demotion to Indianapolis, I advocated for Keller to remain with the Indians for the remainder of the season to actually work on his delivery, his command and maybe his confidence. The Pirates and Ben Cherington did neither of these things; merely tweaking his delivery a little bit before bringing him back up, with no really success in the Minor Leagues. I saw this with my own two eyes as I was at his last start in Indianapolis, where his final stat line was 5IP/7H/4ER/3BB/9K.

Now here we are, as Keller has made 10 starts since being recalled from Indianapolis. In these outings Keller has a 5.56 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP, with 38 strike outs and 19 walks. But, as many would like to point out, he hasn’t given up a home run in September; as if this is the only way to allow the opposing team to score. You put runners on base, much like his 9 hit and 3 walk game against the Cubs last night, you are going to give up runs; 6 to be exact.

So, what are the Pirates supposed to do with Mitch Keller moving forward? Well, it’s pretty simple actually. Keller has one more year of team control before he become arbitration eligible, and they will actually have to start paying him. That’s one more year to figure it out; maybe not even as a starter to begin the year. Remember my bullpen suggestion? You know try something different other than every five to six days of the same old thing, and just hoping that all of Keller’s issues fix themselves miraculously.

News and Notes

  • Keller’s control is something I have focused on a lot. This time it’s the velocity. Over his last two starts his Fastball velocity has been down 1.5 to 1.9 mph, which has also been mirrored by drops in his three other pitches. It’s obviously the end of the season and he is wearing down, but it also can’t be totally ignored.
  • Bryan Reynolds was firing on all cylinders last night. A double, followed by two singles and a well struck ball (101.8 mph) that resulted in a fielding error. Sometimes Reynolds just sees the ball really well and takes what is given to him, which last night resulted in three hits.
  • Colin Moran followed suit; beginning with a three run shot in the bottom of the first to get the Pirates on the board and ending his night with an insurance run RBI single in the 7th.

  • Jacob Stallings and Micheal Chavis both returned after IL stints. Stallings went 2 for 4 and Chavis put Pittsburgh on top for good with a pinch hit RBI single.

  • Hoy Park exactly been setting the world on fire (.243 over his last 15 games), but you can’t really argue with his overall approach at the plate during this time period-11 walks to 9 strikeouts. Also it’s easy to enjoy his two run triple yesterday, and it’s fun to say Hoy, Hoy, Hoy!

  • The Pirates bullpen pulled together for five scoreless innings to allow for the Pirates 10th comeback win on the season when trailing to 3+ runs. Yeah, it’s hard for me to believe too. One member of the bullpen that hasn’t been getting enough credit this year is Chasen Shreve. In 55 appearances, and across 54.2 innings, Shreve has a 2.96 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. While definitely not a high leverage pitcher, he is useful in the middle relief role, where he comes in to pitch an inning with no one on. That type of pitcher is also needed in the bullpen, at least for one more year in Shreve’s case.

Yes, it’s Roansy Day in Pittsburgh. Highly touted #6 Prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who was acquired in the Pirates off-season trade of Jameson Taillon to the Yankees, Roansy is expected to make his Big League Debut against the Cubs at 6:35 PM EST from PNC Park.

In 13 Minor League games this season-one in Triple-A-Contreras has posted a 2.64 ERA and a .93 WHIP, with 82 strikeouts in 58 innings. Consistently delivering a 95-97 mph Fastball, with a mid-80’s sinking Changeup, he has keep batters on their heels this year; and probably would have gotten the call-up to Indianapolis earlier in the year if it wasn’t for a two month stint on the IL due to an elbow issue.

Opposing Contreras will be Kyle Hendricks (14-7, 4.81 ERA) for Chicago.

Pirates Top 30 Prospect Trend Report

9-28-21 – By Justin Verno – @JV_PITT on Twitter

Greetings from Ocean City Maryland where, between the beach and beers (OK, a lot of beers) I’ve been able to get this done.

Man oh man what a great week for the Pirates system. A few real good looks here. To get into this I think we have switch gears a little. Most of the guys are done for the season. Some are still playing in AAA. Greensboro is still in the playoffs and Fangraphs is not updating their numbers. So I have to play around here a little, bare with us!

1-Henry Davis – 50 FV        SEASON OVER

BA/OBP/SLOPSISOwOBAwRCwalkK
CPX429/429/1.1431.571.714.6632830%28.6%
Season263/375/6841.059.421.42416216.7%33.3%

 2-Quinn Priester – 50 FV  ARROW DOWN

IPERAFIP  xFIP  WHIPBABIPKBB
Season97.23.044.084.261.24.28524.1%9.6%

Quinn was terrific for Greensboro in game 2. Going 5 innings, striking out 7 while giving up 1 ER to an ERA of 1.80.

3 – Roansy Contreras – 50 FV  ARROW UP

IPERAFIPxFIPWHIPBABIPK%BB
AAA3.22.450.91 3.351.36.444K%BB
Season54.12.652.742.93.90.26237.5%6.3%

4- Liover Peguero – 50 FV 

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
PLAY OFFS250/357/250.607
Season270/332/444.776.174.3381087.9%25.2%

5-Miguel Yajure – 50 FV 

IPERAFIP  xFIP  WHIPBABIPK%BB
Week3.27.3611.628.381.91.25010.5%10.5%
Season43.23.094.354.161.05.23923%7.5%
MLB134.057.015.591.15.18218.9%9.4%

6- Oneil Cruz – 50 FV ARROW UP

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
AAA429/579/1.0711.650.253.64730826.3%26.3%
Season292/346/536.882.244.3771367.3%23.4%

7-Tahnaj Thomas – 50 FV IL SEASON OVER

IPERAFIP  xFIP  WHIPBABIPK%BB
Season60.25.196.495.801.58.28922.1%12.5%

8-Nick Gonzales – 50 FV

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
PLAY OFF143/386/429.797
Season302/385/565.950.262.40515010.8%27.4%

9-Travis Swaggerty – 50 FV – Out for the year

10-Bubba Chandler – 45 FV SEASON OVER

BA/OBP/SLOPSISOwOBAwRCwalkK
Season167/324/300.624.133.3258013.5%43.2%

11-Ji-hwan Bae – 45 SEASON OVER

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
Season278/359/413.771.134.34311410.4%22.7%

12-Brennan Malone – 45 FV SEASON OVER

IPERAFIPxFIPWHIPBABIPK%BB
CPX10.15.234.153.461.16.19427.3%15.2%
Week – A3.20.007.619.122.45.33310%25%

13-Hudson Head – 45 FV  SEASON OVER

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
Play Off200/273/200.473
Season-213/362/394.755.181.36411315.7%31.6%

14-Cody Bolton – 45 FV -out for the season

15-Maikol Escotto – 40+ FV ARROW UP SEASON OVER

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
Play Off417/462/6671.128
Season-234/354/347.701.113.34410014.2%30.4%

16-Anthony Solometo – Nothing Yet

17-Jarred Jones – 40+ FV SEASON OVER

IPERAFIP  xFIP  WHIPBABIPK%BB
Season664.643.913.751.47.38534.1%11.3%

18-Carmen Mlodzinski – 40+ FV IL SEASON OVER

IPERAFIP  xFIP  WHIPBABIPK%BB
Season49.13.284.353.991.22.29832%9.4%

19-Canaan Smith-Njigba – 40+ FV

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
AAA091/231/091.322000.3129333.3%0%
Season274/398/406.830.141.18015.4%46.2%

20-Lonnie White – 40+ FV – SEASON OVER

BA/OPS/SLOPSISOwOBAwRCwalkK
Seaon258/303/516.819.258.3641086.1%42.4%

21-Rodolfo Castro – 40+ FV ARROW UP

BA/OBP/SLOPSISOwOBAwRCwalkK
AAA471/50/1.228.198.647.663.3195.6%29%
Season242/295/425.719.182.311926.1%23.1%
MLB198/258/395.653.198.282756.5%29%

22-Diego Castillo – 40+ FV 

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
Week000/500/000.500.000.35911950%25%
Season – AAA275/446/475.921.200.40915223.2%16.1%
Season – PIT282/342/445.787.164.3431128.3%7.4%
Season-NY277/345/504.850.228.3671288.4%12.7%

23-Rodolfo Nolasco – 40+ FV SEASON OVER

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
Season284/409/552.961.269.43615015.9%26.2%

24-Jared Oliva – 40+ FV ARROW DOWN

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
Week182/308/182.408.000.2494715.4%30.8%
Season257/328/367.694.110.312887.3%27.6%
MLB175/233/225.458.050.215207%23.3%

25-Endy Rodriguez – 40+ FV  ARROW UP

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
PLAY Off462/500/5381.036
Season294/380/512.892.218.41014011.5%17.7%

26-Mason Martin – 40+ FV  ARROW UP

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
AAA250/308/7501.058.500.4341680%30.8%
Season242/318/481.799.239.3421138.1%34.2%

27-Jose Soriano – 40+ FV – Out for the season

28-Luis Oviedo -40+ FV – MLB

29-Cal Mitchel – 40+ FV ARROW DOWN

BA/OBP/SLOPS  ISO  wOBAwRCwalkK
AAA250/250/333.583.083.255510%8.3%
Season280/330/429.759.149.3321065.7%16.9%

30-Eddy Yean – 40+ FV ARROW UP X2

IPERAFIP  xFIP  WHIPBABIPK%BB
Play Off3.20000,55
Season66.25.275.274.711.43.27423.3%13.2%

The week Oneil Cruz had leaves me speechless. Kid just pulverized the ball. It’s a really small sample size but from pitch one he looks ahead of the pack and close to the next challenge.

Nick Gonzales saw a lot of pitches he didn’t like and while he didn’t do a ton when he did swing the bat the walk percent and patience he showed is a welcome sign. Kid was ready for AA weeks ago and I must admit a little disappointment in not seeing him get the call.

The 2 big pitching prospects di just fine, incase you were wondering. Priester was terrific while Contreras looked more than ready to compete in AAA.

A solid showing by Eddie Yean in his 3.2 innings of work in the Marauder’s play off game, but whats more important to note here is the Bucs obviously like the kid running him out there for 3.2 innings in such a big game with everything on the line.

Mason Martin had a solid go in his first week of AAA play.

But wow, Endy Rodriguez had a play offs! Batting over 400 and getting on base in half of his plate appearances. And no way I am forgetting to mention an OPS 1.038. Kid should absolutely see a monster jump in the rankings.

The sands of the hour glass are running low here folks. All in all this has been an excellent MiLB season for the rebuilding Bucs. See ya in week!

Five Pirates Thoughts at Five

9-27-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

There’s something in a season like this that irritates people that stick with the team through the whole death march more than the fact that the team is bad. It’s the devolution that really makes it impossible to stomach.

As a fan following a team in a rebuild, there’s a lot you can accept, you just have to, but one thing everyone would like to see is progress, even if slow. Now, after making moves at the deadline and gearing seemingly every decision toward keeping pitchers healthy, we’ve instead been treated to an environment of disarray.

Pitchers in and out, up and down. Guys who matter, guys who don’t. Arms who’ll be here next year, those who won’t even be in the organization. Instead of watching the future, we’ve largely been treated to more maybe’s and what if’s.

It’s not been a progressive season in the rebuild, and yes, that feel could be there, even in a 100 loss season if you could reasonably feel the arrow is pointed up based on players doing work. There just hasn’t been much of that, even when you get it the rug is quickly yanked. Dillon Peters looks positive, yup, IL trip for him. Bryse Wilson is a rare baseball trade for now, yup, he’s reached his innings count, sit down young man.

I’m not claiming this is all the Pirates fault, but it’s certainly their doing. Time for some insurance policies next year.

Now let’s dig in on the five thoughts today, it’s not all negative but I had to get that off my chest.

1. Don’t Get Too High, Don’t Get Too Low

There are two perfect examples on this team that simply scream you just don’t know yet. Mitch Keller was a highly touted prospect, by both MLB and the Pirates, and as we conclude the 3rd season of him getting cracks at MLB it’s at least clear, the day they arrive isn’t the day they ascend, at least not all the time. Now, he’s shown signs of improvement recently, but he did that last year too.

Then you have a guy like Max Kranick, and let’s be honest, idiots who really dig in on this stuff like Craig and I knew who he was, even we didn’t know what he had in him. He was a kid, with potential, now he’s a power armed kid, with potential.

Not enough for you? How about my boy Clay Holmes who I spent the best part of half a season telling you to be patient with because his numbers weren’t reflective of his stuff, and there he is absolutely killing it for the Yankees. This isn’t about seller’s remorse, the trade might just work out great for both sides in the end, but let’s just say there weren’t many batting an eye when he was moved.

Hey, I’ve been wrong on guys too, the difference is, I know these things take time and sometimes you have to look at the stuff and watch them try to fine tune it. David Bednar has been an absolute treat, but do you really think San Diego tosses him in the Musgrove deal if they thought this was what he’d be?

I say this for guys like Nick Mears, or Kyle Keller. On the surface just not good, but look at the stuff, the movement, think about the learning curve for guys like that. Most people wouldn’t like to teach their kid to drive in a Porsche, it’s just too much power to handle, but a big league pitcher who has that kind of stuff has no other recourse. Be patient, or be destined to always look at another team who has what you want and wonder why you don’t. None of this means either of those two will make it, but the point is, you constantly want to understand why they get chances, well, 97-99 is a LOUD number, especially with movement.

Now, do they have the right coach to help bring it out of them? Another question entirely and one I’m more prepared to answer than the Pirates, they want no parts of the question as of right now.

2. It’s Beyond Unreal the NL Central Will Have Two Playoff Teams

This division had no business putting forward two playoff teams, but the San Diego Padres absolutely ate themselves alive. Too many talents with big personalities, waiting for the other guy to step up and do something.

The Cardinals meanwhile rode a crop of veterans and hungry youngsters to come together and play inspired baseball including a historic winning streak.

The Brewers are doing really well but they were the only one’s we really expected to come out of this group, but let’s be honest, most had the Reds pegged as the next best hope. Sometimes the old, experienced club just pulls everything together, and when the team that wasn’t really ready to run tries to keep up, they run into cramps.

The Pirates played almost no role in any of this, and yes I’m aware they finally stepped up and beat the Reds a few times recently, but the division is going to be in flux for a few seasons now and if the Pirates can somehow find a way to get the pitching to catch up to the bats this could look pretty cool very soon.

I don’t see that without an outside investment, and no I don’t mean a 30 mil a year guy, but when they look to sign reclamation projects this winter like Tyler Anderson, maybe give them 2 or even 3 years to act as a stability force that helps to not waste the young hitting talent while they wait for internal pitching to develop.

3. Being Reactionary in Baseball is a Fool’s Errand

About a month ago the Pirates were inventing new ways to lose and Wilmer Difo misplayed a popup into a complete collapse and a Cubs win. The fans accosted my mentions with cries that he should be DFA’d immediately to send a message.

The other day he hit another homerun as a pinch hitter to increase his already league leading pinch hit numbers, and again, fans went to town on my mentions, this time calling for him to be brought back next season.

Max Kranick was a glaring example of what Mitch Keller wasn’t as he threw his 5 no hit innings against the Cards, then for his next 3 or 4 MLB starts he was a brutal reminder of how bad the pitching scene was here, and yesterday he goes out and gives the fans another dominant performance that has people putting him in the rotation next year.

I could do this all day.

Hayes should have gotten a Tatis style deal back in April, now we aren’t sure if they should extend him at all.

Incredibly Miguel Yajure had one poor outing after his recall and he too has found his way out of the projected rotation.

Look, baseball by it’s nature is inherently full of failure. I’m not the first person to tell you failing 7 out of 10 times will get you in the hall of fame. So when you react game in and game out, at bat to at bat you’re going to wind up wearing egg on your face a whole bunch of the time.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion, we all can, but if a guy has 3 good outings and one bad one, just because bad is the last thing you saw doesn’t mean those other 3 didn’t happen. Take the time to allow for ups and downs, even Bryan Reynolds has them, the difference is he’s been around long enough to have you see the down blips for what they are, momentary patches of not seeing the ball well.

4. I Honestly Hope the Dodgers Sweep the Playoffs

The more embarrassing the Dodgers payroll can be for MLB the better. You might think a team like the Rays winning would spell hope for the Pirates or teams like them, but in reality it’ll only serve to give those who want to pretend everything is just fine another team beside the Royals to point to as a reason to leave everything alone.

The Dodgers winning won’t alone change anything but if you’re a person who truly wants a cap, there is a very real need to see the team spending up to 5 times those on the low end look like exactly that in the playoffs. It wouldn’t hurt to see some teams who’ve done everything right like the White Sox or Rays get outclassed.

The fan in me wants to see the Dodgers win about as much as I want to drive a hot nail through my toe, but much the same treating an infection is often as painful as the infection itself.

5. Enough With the Bullpen Games

I get that the Pirates are just trying to cripple through the season, but this relentless onslaught of bullpen games has just made this stretch of games unbearable even for the most die hard of die hards.

If there’s one thing we don’t need to learn it’s that the bullpen stinks, so maybe don’t feature it 4 out of 6 contests huh?

How is anyone on the team supposed to take things seriously when every inning is in search of an uncharacteristic performance to keep you in the game? A few weeks back I was praising the management for trying to teach winning, now I’m wondering why they bothered showing up most of time.

The results would likely be no better, but get James Marvel up here to start. He won’t survive the roster crunch anyhow. Let Ponce start. Hell get Kuhl back into the role. But this silly Sam Howard starting crap has to go.

This really speaks to the opening of the piece today, nothing says we aren’t getting better quite like limping to the finish line.

Another Bullpen Game, Another Predictable Beat Down 13-1 to Reds

9-27-27 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

The Reds are on the verge of playoff elimination, and it’ll happen today or tomorrow with no help from the Pirates. That didn’t stop them from the equivalent of Pitt beating New Hampshire 77-7.

A rookie pitcher who started in AA this season making his debut, Reiver Sanmartin, didn’t stop the Pirates from looking utterly defeated as he stomped through their lineup to the tune of 5.2 innings of one run ball.

The Pirates barrage of underwhelming bullpen arms didn’t stop Joey Votto from two more dingers and 35 on the season. In fact every position player for the Reds had at least one hit today.

This was simply a non contest from the first inning on.

Stink. Stank. Stunk. – Dr. Seuss

News & Notes

  • Bullpen arms are typically bullpen arms for a reason, but the Pirates keep trying to get multiple innings out of each and every one of them. I’d like to think it’s being considered in their evaluation of each player, but either way it’s certainly not making it look like any of them are ready for prime time.
  • Two errors in a 13-1 beat down don’t really garner much attention, but Cole Tucker made another at short stop, and while his bat has been at least noticeable in September the glove has been too, for all the wrong reasons. Colin Moran has also struggled lately after starting fine there early in the season, committing another today on a routine roller.
  • Jacob Stallings was eligible to come off the Concussion IL today and while his symptoms have subsided the club did not activate him.
  • The Bucs have been outsourced 98-29 in Cincinnati in 2021.

Pirates Pitching And Bats Power Through To Avoid A Sweep In Philly, Proving Me Wrong In The Process

9-27-2021 By Craig W. Toth (aka @bucsbasement on Twitter)

It almost never fails. Every time I talk bad or write some negative about a member of the Pirates, an aspect of their overall game performance (fielding or base running) a certain group of players (relievers, starters, batters, etc.), the coaching staff or the general capabilities of the team as a whole, I am proven to be incorrect pretty quickly; at least in the short term. Which is is exactly what happened on Sunday afternoon; and in all honesty, I am here for it.

As a Pirates Fan first and foremost, and a blogger/podcaster second, I always want the team, its individual players and coaches to do well. However, as it is with any other Pirates Fan I get extremely emotional at times when it comes to making assessments. Most of the time statistics overpower the fan side of my brain, but not always.

As an entity, the Pirates Pitching Staff has been a bit of a disappointment, but they are are also young-particularly experience wise-in general. There is room to grow for some, and for others a change in role could prove to be successful in the long run.

Is any of this guaranteed? Absolutely not. Is there much help on the way in the immediate future? Not much. Will next year be any better? I don’t know, but I sure hope so.

News and Notes

  • Max Kranick began his Major League Career with no-hit, rain delayed outing in St. Louis back at the end of July; becoming the first pitcher in 127 years to throw 5 perfect innings in a debut. Then just one week ago Kranick became the first Pirates pitcher since Francisco Liriano in 2013 to strike out 10 batters in a row. In between it has been a mixed bag in MLB, as well as in his time in Indianapolis. So, understandably when Kranick took the mound yesterday afternoon, it would be hard to predict how thing were going to turn out. Luckily, for the Pirates it was a whole lot closer to his debut than many of his other starts this year. His final line was 5IP/0ER/3BB/5K.
  • First pitch, first batter of the game-Cole Tucker-and the Pirates led 1-0. Since being recalled for Indianapolis, Tucker is batting .243, but has a .292 AVG and a .790 OPS over his last 15 games; which is an extremely small sample size. Nevertheless, Tucker has gone from having no shot at sticking on the 40-man to making things very interesting in the last month of the season with his revamped swing.

  • Ke’Bryan Hayes didn’t start the game, but once he did, he let his presence be known.

  • David Bednar made his return from the IL, with Kyle Keller being optioned to Indy to make room on the roster. Bednar pitched an inning, struck out one and allowed a bloop single.
  • Nick Mears has taken a lot of heat recently; mostly due to a 5 hit, 4 run outing on September 14th versus Cincinnati. Since then he has not allowed a single run, walked only two batters two and struck out 7-including three yesterday-in six appearances and across 4.2 innings of work.

Today was originally scheduled as off day; that was until the rain clouds would let up in Cincinnati this past Wednesday.

So, after four days in Philadelphia, the Pirates will return to Great American Ballpark to finish off the three game road series with the Reds.

Pittsburgh has an open spot in the rotation, so as of right now the starter is TBD. For Cincinnati, Reiver Sanmartin will make his first Big League appearance.

The Pitching Needs to Improve, but It’s Also Not Quite as Bad as it Looks Right Now

9-26-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Before I really get into this too far, let me just start by saying, yes, you’re absolutely right, the pitching staff on this club is the worst aspect by far, and it needs to be the focus this offseason for improvement.

There, if you stuck with me I think we need to remind ourselves, much of what we’re watching right now is about not caring about the outcome anymore, the sincere belief that they’re protecting arms (debatable) and finally a weak top end of the pipeline.

Let’s first talk about what Spring Training will look like next season.

Bare minimum they come back with these options to start. Wil Crowe, Max Kranick, Mitch Keller, Miguel Yajure, Dillon Peters, Bryse Wilson, JT Brubaker and possibly Chase De Jong.

I didn’t even discuss Steven Brault or Chad Kuhl because I want to leave room that they might get dealt.

Now, that’s not great based on what we watched in 2021. That said, I think it’s fair to pin some of the short starts on a team philosophy coming out of COVID and the overall youth and inexperience of the pitchers to begin with.

So if we take a five man rotation made up of say Wilson, Keller, Yajure, Peters and Brubaker you’d certainly feel better than you do right this second right?

I think they’ll bring in at least one veteran, not unlike Anderson and you’ve got the makings of a much stronger unit than again what the season has devolved into.

Again, all I’m saying here is it’s not great, but it’s not quite where it appears as we sit here trying to watch this crippled race car creep across the finish line.

As it stands right now, you want to imagine there is a prospect close to ready beside Yajure, and that would be Contreras but if you really care about the guy, he isn’t an option for this shiz show, and Cody Bolton also injured all year will need some AAA time next season. Next year Osvaldo Bito will probably get a look and some thought too.

That’s it, because the ugly truth about this rebuild is the bats are leaps and bounds ahead of the arms. Those are all scheduled to be in Altoona and below next year and it’s way too early to worry about them being a factor, not yet.

The bullpen, as we sit is a mitigated disaster. Chris Stratton, Chad Kuhl, Chasen Shreve, Shelby Miller, Anthony Banda, Sam Howard, Nick Mears, Kyle Keller, Cody Ponce, Enyel De Los Santos, and Luis Oviedo.

If you told me I had a 3 run lead and I could choose from any of those to make it happen, I’d struggle.

Now of course we’re missing David Bednar, but he’s also the best far and away. They’ve also lost Duane Underwood Jr. and Blake Cederlind.

So, next season Shea Spitzbarth, Hunter Stratton, Joe Jacques and Yerry De Los Santos probably have a shot at helping, but they’ll need to go get more.

Point is, this isn’t as bad as it looks, but it ain’t good either. They have room and need to go get some help.

Pirates Starting Pitching Has Been Less Than Ideal

9-26-21 By Craig W. Toth (aka @bucsbasement on Twitter)

A couple of days ago, I found myself digging into the shortcomings of the Pirates bullpen. Over worked and underperforming, injury riddled and possibly out of their element as far as newly assigned roles were concerned; which is honestly not much different than than the ever evolving starting rotation.

On the season the Pittsburgh Pirates have had only three pitchers accumulate more than 100 innings; with one of those finishing the year in Seattle and other seemingly shut down. Yesterday’s starter, Wil Crowe is literally the last man standing, with two unfortunate distinctions to show for it. Out of all pitchers in MLB that have reached that benchmark, Crowe has the 6th highest ERA (5.73), the fourth highest WHIP (1.61) the third highest BB/9 (4.34) and the worst HR/9 (2.05). Shoutout to Alex Stumpf for pointing me in the direction of this information.

But, unfortunately it’s not like Crowe is on an island by himself when it comes to being a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher that is performing poorly in some of the major statistical categories; some just may not have logged as many innings. Brubaker, who has, sits just behind Crowe in HR/9 with 2.03. Mitch Keller, who currently has pitched 93.2 innings to Crowe’s 105 has a 1.75 WHIP. Chad Kuhl, in his 14 starts, has a higher walk percentage; 12.2% to 10.6%.

Simply put, it’s not like any starter that is left on the Pirates roster has been very good. Sure, they have all had their strong starts, with some being able to string a few in a row together. But overall, statistically speaking, no one has performed well this year.

There hasn’t been that bright spot, that can build on his success heading into the 2022 season. If anything, with all the injuries and rough patches many have experienced in later parts of this season, I’m not sure how anyone can point towards many positives with the starting rotation, unless somethings really change; like going out and getting a couple of Tyler Anderson types to patch things together.

News and Notes

  • The Pirates managed just four hits on Saturday Afternoon, with two of those coming off the bat of journeyman catcher Taylor Davis. The 31 year old now has ten hits in his Major League Career.
  • Pittsburgh’s batters struck out seven times and didn’t walk once. This is not surprising, as it seemed like swinging at the first pitch, if it was anywhere near the zone was the plan yesterday against Ranger Saurez; who needed only 97 pitches to dispose of the Pirates on the day.
  • The Pirates bullpen combined for 3.1 scoreless innings. It wasn’t dominant by any stretch of the imagination, but it was an improvement over recent performances.
  • The Phillies have used the Pirates as a springboard to pull within 1.5 games of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
  • The Pirates are now only three loses away from an unfortunate 100 loss season with 8 games remaining.

Pittsburgh will look to avoid the sweep a few hours from now at 1:05 PM from Citizens Bank Park.

Max Kranick (1-3, 7.28 ERA) will take the mound against the dreaded TBD for the Phillies.

Pirates Lose in Familiar Fashion 8-6 in Philly

9-25-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

The Pirates at this point in the season have the worst bullpen in baseball. I’m not going to bother looking up the stats, let’s just go with the knowledges that we have no idea who is going to do what nightly.

There are at this point, roughly 83 innings left to cover and the way we’re going, there might be 18 pitchers to get it done. It’s hard to even pretend this is about evaluation as much as its about finishing the season not requiring anyone to have their arm amputated.

So when the Pirates chose to use Sam Howard as an opener instead of the logical choice of the recently pulled up Miguel Yajure, you know, a starter, well, it got me thinking.

I think we can stop right now worrying about when any pitcher pitches. The rest of this season is about nothing more than spending the last few innings in their budget and I honestly don’t think they care where or when or who does it.

Howard managed to open the game scoreless and hand it to Yajure who didn’t look great.

Miguel gave up 3 earned, 4 in all. Shelby Miller gave up a couple in .2 innings. Chasen Shreve gave up 3 more.

Sprinkle in the good performances and there we are.

The team continues to hit, in fact they’ve overcome this pitching staff more than a few times in this last month of baseball.

I will say this, I question the wisdom of purposefully going with a bullpen game two days in a row when you know how bad that aspect of the team is, but again, it’s just innings at this point, and they’ve made it very clear we should see it that way. In fact If they could replace their jersey numbers with countdown clocks for how many innings they have left in the budget for each one it might actually help us understand what’s happening.

Phillies defeat the Pirates 8-6 and again, somehow the Pirates had a lead as late as the 7th.

News & Notes

  • Before the game Dillon Peters was placed on the IL and no, I don’t know if it’s real or rest. Miguel Yajure was called up to replace him on the roster.
  • Wilmer Difo is arguably the best pinch hitter in the game this year, and tonight he popped another dinger off the bench to give the team the lead in the 7th.
  • Miguel Yajure didn’t look his best, but health is more important for him. Making sure he has a normal offseason and Spring is super important.
  • It’s a lot to ask but Reynolds is really close to some nice round numbers with 9 games left. .295, 88 RBI, 24 dingers. Sure would be nice to round all those up.