Pirates Discussion: Going Down Swinging

If for a moment you can forget that Pittsburgh Pirates’ Killer Kolten Wong exists, Mitch Keller was fantastic Tuesday evening.

After two shortened starts — one due to shoulder fatigue and the other during a rough fourth inning — Keller filled the strike zone while going six solid innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.

On the night, Keller threw 71 of his 105 pitches for strikes. With that he would set a career high with ten strike outs, of which eight were on a swinging strike three. This time he didn’t lean heavily on his sinker throwing it for only 18 of his 105 pitches. Instead he leaned on his Fourseam that he threw 44 times and reached up to 98 MPH on multiple occasions. He mixed his breaking balls in well throwing his Slider and Curveball 21 times each.

As a whole he pitched well except for one hanging breaking ball to Kolton Wong in the fourth inning following a Hunter Renfroe single. In total Keller gave up four hits and two walks to go with the two earned runs and ten strike outs across his six innings.

The offense couldn’t sneak out a win for Keller as they didn’t bring the same energy up to that point.

In the third inning the Pirates took advantage of Jason Alexander slipping after holding them hitless through two innings with four strike outs. After a Hit-By-Pitch and then a walk, Oneil Cruz hit a line drive to right field with one out to score the games first run.

After the Wong homerun in the fourth inning gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead, the Pirates would wait till Keller left the game to tie things up with a Michael Chavis solo shot in the top of the 7th.

Manny Banuelos relieved Keller and pitched a scoreless eighth inning allowing only a hit.

The post-trade deadline re-shuffled Brewers bullpen went to work. Rodolfo Castro came up to bat with the bases loaded and two outs after Brad Boxberger sandwiched two walks around a Bryan Reynolds single. The revitalized Castro walked on four pitches to push across the go-ahead run and make it 3-2.

Banuelos came back out for the eighth to face left handed Christian Yelich and got him to ground out. In came Chase De Jong who finished off the inning on only three pitches.

With only a one run lead the offense thought it was best to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Chavis had lead off the inning with a single and moved to second on a Tucupita Marcano sacrifice bunt. After a Jason Delay strike out Oneil stepped to the plate and laced a 112.6 MPH double to the left center wall that bounced and may have left a dent in the wall for a 4-2 lead. As should be expected by now with Cruz, it was also the hardest hit ball of the evening.

Returning for a second inning of work, Chase De Jong had to begin against the infamous Wong who kicked things off with a hard hit double to right field. Brewers’ Monday night hero who really likes to pull the ball (48.2% of the time per Fangraphs) Keston Hiura stepped to the plate and hit a single against the shift just to the right of Castro. This would bring up former Pirates Andrew McCutchen who was looking to end the game on one swing with runners on the corners and he hit a very high ball that Oneil fielded in short right field for the first out.

Still not out of the weeds, De Jong got to a full count after falling behind 3-1 to Luis Urias. With the sixth pitch of the at-bat he got Urias to hit a groundball to Castro that he had to range to his left, spun towards 2B after fielding the ball and threw a dart to Cruz who then fired over (on target) to Chavis for a game ending double play. Barely beating the runner.

This was the first save of Chase De Jong’s career and now gives the Pirates a chance to take the series tomorrow.

Pirates @ Brewers

Time: 2:10 PM EST

Pirates Starter: Zach Thompson (3-10, 5.33)

Brewers Starter: Freddy Peralta (4-3, 3.69)

Thompson Notes: Zach Thompson’s last appearance was out of the bullpen against the Philadelphia Phillies following Bryse Wilson. He ended up throwing five innings while allowing only a single earned run while collecting two strike outs. This will be his 22nd start of the season.

LINEUPS:

Pirates

Brewers

1. Christian Yelich (L) LF
2. Willy Adames (R) SS
3. Rowdy Tellez (L) DH
4. Hunter Renfroe (R) RF
5. Kolten Wong (L) 2B
6. Keston Hiura (R) 1B
7. Luis Urias (R) 3B
8. Omar Narvaez (L) C
9. Tyrone Taylor (R) CF

UPDATE: Brubaker and Yajure return

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Wilbur Miller

I’m really, really tired of waiver claim relievers. This afternoon I watched a wide array of Marauders’ pitchers throw 199 pitches in a 9-inning game, only 98 of them for strikes. Then I get home and see what a masterful performance Yohan Ramirez had today.

Yes, Bradenton is in low A (although it’s not just the level — BRD pitchers are worse than league avg in walks). The connection here is that it’s too easy to find guys who can throw hard. All these guys walking the planet throw 94 or so with breaking balls that . . . well, at least break some. But they can’t pitch.

The equivalent at the major league level is a FO that says, “Oh, lookee, there’s a guy on waivers we have a 2020 scouting report for that says he can touch 97 and has a slider that could be an average pitch some day, and he’s only 29 now. Let’s claim him!” Pro ball now is filled with “pitchers” who have good velocity and some sort of secondary pitch. It’s the FO’s job to make judgments about which ones can actually pitch. They have to do more than claim every one of these guys who goes on waivers and then give him 10-20 outings to see if whatever has failed to click over his ten-year career suddenly clicks now. If that’s all they’re gonna do, why pay Cheringtoon seven figures to do something a ten-year old can do?

ArkyWags

I think Manfred Man got rid of the low minors just to punish you, Wilbur. You are the P squared Job…

RAS TN

Inquiring minds want to know What the H do the Pirates see in Yajure…

NMR

pandemic giveth and pandemic taketh.

Roansy blew up out of nowhere over the time off and came in with far better stuff than anyone had yet to see from him, while Yajure was up to 97 for a brief period prior to everything shutting down and hasn’t been able to maintain that jump in stuff.

Gotta get his command back and he’ll be a back end option.

NMR

DFA’d

NMR

we have grade 40 prospects to hand scholarships, people. No room for competent big leaguers.

NMR

Absolutely no command so far, tho. Chalk it up to rust.

Pitch mix also a bit surprising, weren’t the cutter and change his bread and butter?

NMR

Wow, no kidding. Great sign, that kind of stuff puts him back in the conversation.

docdon385

Is it time to start asking what the heck is going on with Hayes? He’s been looking lost or disinterested at the plate and has made too many costly errors lately to just ignore. If he’s hurting, let Castro play. If not, what’s going on?

NMR

Call it a blessing in disguise. His swing clearly needs overhauled, and no successful hitters overhaul their swing mid-career.

ArkyWags

Mid career or mid year?

ArkyWags

Sometimes guys slump. I wouldn’t get into “he looks disinterested” type of thinking.

hoptown

What I’d do. 8/31 edition.
1) DFA J Van0fer immediately. Call up JH Bae. Move Bednar to 60-day DL.
2) DFA G Allen. Call up C Mitchell
3) Find Mitchell a 1B mitt.
4) DFA B Gamel. Call up T Swaggerty.
5) Call up C Bolton as 27th man. Move Peters to 60-day DL.
6) Call up D Castillo as 28th man.
7) When someone gets hurt, call up D Maggi for his MLB debut. He’s earned it.

docdon385

If Maggi had earned it, he would have already been in the majors. The truth is that despite 12 years of trying he’s never been able to earn it.

Personally I’d have no problem with doing it. He can’t be any worse than some of the guys who’ve already been on the roster this year and at least one who’s still taking up roster space but has only played in one game in the last two weeks and that was a disaster. He might be the true charity case on this team. It’s hard to understand any other reason he’s still around. Maggi or Waldo for that matter (wherever he is these days) can take his place right now and only be an improvement.

However, before seriously considering it I’d suggest someone should probably ask Maggi how he’d feel about a token call up. If he’s competitive, as I suspect he has to be given his history, he might see it as demeaning or insulting instead of it being an honor as those who are suggesting it seem to believe. He knows very well that he hasn’t earned it, but if he’s okay with that, what the heck?

Last edited 29 days ago by docdon385
Shultzie31

Check out the stuff on wynton Bernard with the Rockies if you’re not aware. That’s what it means to a guy like that. To your point, Bernard was earning it in AAA but a guy like that, getting there is why he’s still playing. It’s everything. Not to mention the financial benefits.

Shultzie31

Don’t think you dfa gamel. Hard enough to get guys to sign here. That guy has been steady for us. Nobody expects him to be a star.

Catch_22

Ladies and Gentlemen your Pittsburgh Indians

7) In what manner has he earned it?

hoptown

A 33 year old career minor leaguer with 12 yrs and over 1,100 games—most of them with the Pirates organization.

Catch_22

Not to sound harsh but, I’m not a believer in participation trophies.

TNBucs

And yet you support Cherington and company who get one heck of a trophy in being one of 30 GMs while very clearly stating that they’re not in it right now to win and lose but merely to participate.

Promoting Maggi is little different than promoting Shelton and letting him keep his job despite the three worst MLB seasons since the ’50s. Or giving VanMeter a roster spot and letting him keep it despite being worth negative WAR.

In this environment, there is nothing wrong with giving Maggi a cameo in the majors.

Anthony

As much as Maggi prob wants to play in the show, the last thing he would want is a “sympathy” call-up or promotion. Extremely dedicated and hard working people loathe pity.

Last edited 29 days ago by Anthony
john_fluharty

Sympathy? Or a reward for years of hard work?

Anthony

Omg, is this really a serious question?

Catch_22

I don’t support BC. It wouldn’t necessarily bother me if Maggi got a promotion, but again, what has he done to deserve the promotion? Nothing, other than riding buses for over a decade.

I just don’t like the society where this guy gets a promotion and that guys gets a promotion. Life isn’t easy, you make your own breaks. Not everything is a Disney Movie

bucsws2014

You must hate “Rudy”.

NMR

Altoona infield defense well represented in BA’s Best AA Tools article:

https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/2022-double-a-minor-league-prospects-with-the-best-scouting-tools/

Andres Alzarez ranked as best 2B in the Eastern League, Jared Triolo once again as best 3B.

Mike Burrows also gets the nod for best breaking ball.

Check out the best defensive 1B in the Texas League, the Glendinnger himself!

Last edited 29 days ago by NMR
joesolo6181

Great to see Keller have a great start after two less than perfect ones.

Catch_22

My man was dealing last night. Very encouraging. Biggest takeaway from this season has been the development and steps taken by Keller, Bru and Roansy. Sign a couple FA arms and you have a competent rotation.

Rest of the year, I think you have to give Castro 2b, with Cruz at SS and Hayes at 3b. Newman makes a nice utility bench piece. Figure out the OF corners and 1b, but for the love of God, no more tryouts at the MLB level. They have to be to the point of being past that. I can’t go through another year of MLB tryouts…It’s a bad, bad look.

NMR

The amount of legitimately positive stories that’ve been overwhelmed by playing an enormous amount of dudes who belong nowhere near major league baseball is truly a shame.

Catch_22

hodgepodge

ArkyWags

Fully on board with this whole comment. I’d be fine also with getting a better defensive CF and moving Reynolds to the corner. Stretched too much in center.

NMR

Crazy amount of cool stuff in this article:

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/lars-nootbaar-is-for-real/

Some nuggets…

-Swinging less is extremely useful; pitchers throw an incredibly small percentage of pitches in a hitter’s hot zone, and everybody basically sucks at all the pitches outside of it.

-“There’s a sneaky second benefit to being patient, though, particularly if you make a league-average amount of contact. Swinging at a bad pitch has a huge, hidden downside. You might miss it, which is bad enough — but you might also hit it. Plenty of times, that’s worse. In his major league career, Nootbaar has been pretty bad when he makes contact outside the strike zone, hitting for a .307 wOBA (.294 xwOBA). In his defense, though, the league as a whole does even worse in those situations: a .291 wOBA and .284 xwOBA.”

-send every hitter to Driveline

-KeBryan Hayes has the third-flattest swing in baseball. The biggest uppercut? Jose Altuve!

TNBucs

We need to remember this when someone like Cruz looks at pitches in a first AB or later–I’m sure he’s getting information to be patient. Of course last night he may have just been baiting pitchers into throwing him strikes later when there were runners on base 🙂

Anthony

Only the true elites can and should do this; there is nothing about his minor leaguer stats or qualitative observations that suggest he has the ability to do this, let alone do this consistently, at the highest level.

ArkyWags

How much does that help though? Pitchers are pitching to fewer batters so the information won’t be as good if he’s only gonna face someone two more times tops.

Catch_22

What about when he’s taking strike three middle-middle?

Just my opinion, he’s guessing

Anthony

This game is so fast that pitch recognition and swing decisions need to be made by the subconscious mind. I don’t buy the bullshit that this can only be accomplished or developed in the show, particularly with Cruz. It’s obv he’s thinking too much, and I’m not sure it that’s a function of the counts he’s putting himself in or just a lack of the tools I mentioned above.

ArkyWags

A wise man said you can’t hit and think at the same time.

Catch_22

Really good stuff!

roibert.kasperski

Love seeing the replay of the game ending DP. Well played by everyone,. Great snag/spin/throw by Castro, Great pivot and if not for the cannon of the arm by Cruz, they do not turn the play. Cruz put that throw where Chavis could fully extend for the stretch which he did and game over. Well played by all 3.

AdministrativeSky236

He is definitely dedicated to making up for his lack of height over there, I know he’s not a star or anything, but I have really taken a liking to how Chavis plays the game

PirateRican21

I like Chavis, in a perfect scenario he would play less against righties. I like his defense at 1b even though is not rated as high as I thought. The bench constructing is gonna be interesting next year, but I think he deserves a spot.

Catch_22

I love the player and the hustle, but if you want to be better, you need to move on from Chavis.

Anthony

Also makes the net look smaller;)

Last edited 29 days ago by Anthony
bucsws2014

Early last week I got into a discussion on Cruz’s ineptitude being similar to Darryl Strawberry’s at the 200 PA mark of their rookie year (not counting Cruz cup of coffee last year). And Straw was pretty bad – barely above Cruz. So I did a comparison of the two.

Strawberry vs Cruz through 200 PAs:
BA: .199 vs .198
OBP: .275 vs. .249
SLG: .403 vs. .401
OPS: .678 vs. .650

Cruz has 31 games left this season. Here’s what Strawberry did in his next 31 games:
BA: .295
OBP: .375
SLG: .571
OPS: .946

Here’s what Cruz has done in the six games since reaching 200 PAs:
BA: .273
OBP: .360
SLG: 546
OPS: .906

Now, six games is capital S small sample size, of course. But, the template is there and we might be in for a monster September.

Anthony

Is this before or after his 0 for 4 night with 2 k’s bc in a six or seven game sample size that’s a back-breaker??

roibert.kasperski

Cruz has looked much more comfortable at the plate in the last 6 games. He has not been chasing the breaking stuff outside and out of the zone much lately. The last few games pitchers have tried pitching tight inside and he is not trying to hit that stuff either. Has been robbed by some umps on pitches off of the plate inside too. Guess that is normal with every hitter though.

AdministrativeSky236

Welp Im gonna be in quarantine for 10 days but at least I have some good baseball to follow… right?

jon6er

Good luck and I hope your recovery goes well and you get to see more baseball played like last night.

roibert.kasperski

Thought the CDC said you only needed 5 days now. So confusing. Hope you are well and at worst have mild symptoms.

AdministrativeSky236

Thanks I hope so too! Where I work it is 10 days still, though I hope to be going for walks with a mask after 5 days or so

roibert.kasperski

Your employer can do what it chooses for it’s rules. Godspeed and hope you stay as healthy as possible 🙂

Wilbur Miller

That sucks. COVID I assume. Can you get a Px for paxlovid?

AdministrativeSky236

Going to try! I have a call in to my doctor. I have heard it works wonders so I hope I can get it

Wilbur Miller

Good luck. It leaves an odd taste in your mouth, but it goes away as soon as you stop taking it. I think that’s about the only side effect.

bucsws2014

The ridiculousness of recent Greg Brown calls is pushing me toward Joe Block. And it’s hard for me to type that.

zebug

I think people focus way too much on the announcer. I also think that if Mike Lange would have said zip-zap-kazoo during a tic-tac-toe powerplay goal, there would be t-shirts printed for it.

NMR

great American poet, that man.

TNBucs

I really like Block on the radio, and I really like listening to games when driving, for example. However, if TV is available I’m going to watch and unfortunately the TV broadcast is not quite in sync with the radio broadcast on my MLB.tv.

As for Brown, I like his enthusiasm and emotions for the play on the field. I don’t like his promotion of the team’s president, front office, manager, etc. He’s told us for three years in a row now how there is a different vibe with the team because of Shelton’s clubhouse culture, for example, and how that would translate to success on the field. If he sticks with calling the games, he’s fine. And I’m fine with him being a cheerleader for the players. But when he starts promoting management, it’s hard to give any credit to his in-game observations.

ArkyWags

He’s always been a hump. I can’t stand him. The awful nicknames, the sayings, etc. And he’s gotten worse with the comments about other organizations. I suspect it’s because he’s miserable because the Pirates or awful, so that is an outlet for him. But it shouldn’t be something he does at all.

Oh one more thing that’s annoying is he LOVES him a beanball fight. He gets so excited I’m surprised he can stand up.

Timbertopper

LOL. Preach it, brotha!

Catch_22

I love the enthusiasm he brings. I believe he has the most tenure of any play by play guy in the league.

He’s one of those guys you either love or hate

Maybe I like him because he talked to me at PirateFest for like 15 minutes about his days doing Buffalo Bills games.

Timbertopper

He’s always been hard to stomach but his Baghdad Bob act coupled with the incessant derogatory remarks about other teams and players casts a bad light on the entire organization. It’s unprofessional.

NMR

pitiful, really.

MB21

Just use BLOCK letters

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