First Pitch: Could the Pirates be 31-23 at the End of May?

We heard at the start of the season how the Pittsburgh Pirates had one of the toughest early season schedules in the game. Despite that schedule, the Pirates are 17-14, in second place in the NL Central, and sitting with the fifth highest winning percentage in the National League. They swept the Reds, took three of five against the Cardinals, and took three of four each against the Braves and Phillies. Now the team is set up for a...

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First Pitch: There’s No Reason to Keep Andrew Lambo in Altoona

At the start of the 2013 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a lot of options in the outfield. They had to make some difficult cuts at the end of Spring Training, cutting the hot hitting Alex Presley and Felix Pie in favor of Jose Tabata and Travis Snider. The outfield in the majors had some major question marks. Starling Marte wasn’t established, and Snider and Tabata had both seen their prospect stock fall. With question marks...

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First Pitch: The Common, Yet Wrong Way to Manage a Bullpen

After today’s game, Clint Hurdle announced that he would only be using Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon when the team is ahead. Hurdle didn’t use either reliever in the ninth inning, instead turning to Tony Watson for a second inning in a game that was tied 4-4. Watson gave up the eventual winning run, and the Pirates lost 5-4 with their two best relievers on the bench. I can understand not wanting to over-use your top...

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First Pitch: The Road to Contending Goes Through Milwaukee

For the past two years I’ve had the same thought about the Milwaukee Brewers and what they say about the Pirates’ chances. The thought is always “if the Pirates can beat the Brewers, they’ll show they are legit this year”. Last year the Pirates went 4-11 against Milwaukee, including a 1-8 record in the final two months of the season. They went 3-6 on the road at Miller Park. It would be accurate to say...

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First Pitch: Hanrahan a Recent Example of Why You Sell High on Relievers

Back when the Joel Hanrahan trade happened, there were a lot of complaints that the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t get enough in return and should have held on to Hanrahan until the trade deadline to get a better return. Today, after a rough start with Boston, and after a trip to the disabled list with hamstring problems, Hanrahan was activated. Only he wasn’t activated as the closer. Instead, Andrew Bailey remained in the...

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First Pitch: A Look at the Short-Term and Long-Term Pitching Moves

I was asked this morning on Twitter how the pitching staff would look on July 1st. The recent starts by Jeff Locke, the eventual returns of Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton, and the possibility of Gerrit Cole arriving mid-season make that an impossible question to answer. That’s especially true when you consider that anything could happen between now and then. Pitchers could get injured, they could stop performing well, or...

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