Pirates Discussion: Trying to Avoid Second Straight Sweep

Riding a five game losing streak, the Pittsburgh Pirates started hot but fizzled quickly.

Roansy Contreras re-announced himself by setting down the first three Boston Red Sox batters on just seven pitches.

In the bottom of the first inning Bryan Reynolds — fresh off a late game ejection — deposited a 2-0 fastball from Rich Hill 416 feet into the bullpen for a two-run lead, after Kevin Newman led off the inning with first-pitch single.

The Pirates then quickly returned to the post All-Star break form.

After receiving some early offense and having only thrown seven pitches, Contreras would give those runs back. The first two batters would reach base by way of a single and a walk before Roansy got Eric Hosmer to fly out. Then the next three batters would all pick up a hit, staking the Red Sox a 3-2 lead. Contreras would then record two strikeouts with an intentional walk sandwiched in-between.

Rich Hill took that lead and proceeded to sit down the next nine batters for the Pirates.

Contreras was able to keep the one-run deficit over the next two innings before the Red Sox were able to break through again in the fifth for a 4-2 lead. Alex Verdugo hit his 30th double on the season to score Xander Bogaerts after he had singled. Roansy would go on to pitch one more inning to close his line at six innings pitched with four earned runs. He managed to strike out only three batters while allowing six hits and four walks in total.

Rodolfo Castro broke Hill’s streak of setting down 12 consecutive batters with a single to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Castro wouldn’t get further than second base though, as the Pirates’ hitters began another stretch of no one reaching base safely till the ninth outside of Ben Gamel in the sixth after a Hosmer error.

Duane Underwood Jr. set the Red Sox down 1-2-3 in the seventh after replacing Contreras. He’d begin the 8th but leave after two batters and recording one out. Eric Stout replaced Underwood Jr. and quickly loaded the bases after two singles before walking in a run to make it 5-2. Stout recorded the final two outs with Yohan Ramirez coming in for the ninth and proceeding to give up three earned runs.

The offense tried to make it interesting in the home-half of the ninth. In came a friendly face in Jeurys Familia who hadn’t pitched in a MLB game since he last faced the Pirates as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies back on July 31st. Ben Gamel laced a RBI single to center field with one out and runners on second and third. That ended up being all the offense had in them as Kevin Padlo grounded out to third base on a 3-2 pitch with Castro then finishing things off looking at strike three.

Pirates will lace them back up tomorrow evening hoping to avoid their second consecutive sweep and seventh consecutive loss. There’s still 45 games to go. I can’t believe there’s still 45 to go.

Red Sox @ Pirates

Time: 7:05 PM EST

Pirates Starter: JT Brubaker (2-10, 4.45)

Red Sox Starter: Nathan Eovaldi (5-3, 4.15)

Brubaker Notes: JT Brubaker will be making his 23rd start of the season. After failing to complete five innings in two consecutive starts while giving up 10 earned runs, Brubaker was able to steady the ship against the Arizona Diamondbacks and throw five innings of two-run ball in his latest start. He’ll try to stop the bleeding and help the Pirates avoid their second straight series sweep.

LINEUPS:

Pirates

Red Sox

1. Tommy Pham (R) LF
2. Rafael Devers (L) 3B
3. Xander Bogaerts (R) SS
4. Alex Verdugo (L) RF
5. J.D. Martinez (R) DH
6. Christian Arroyo (R) 2B
7. Reese McGuire (L) C
8. Bobby Dalbec (R) 1B
9. Jarren Duran (L) CF

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Wilbur Miller

I bet there are some teams out there that wish they’d ponied up for BRey.

TNBucs

I just hope Nutting will pony up for BRey. Given the way he seems to go about the craft of hitting, I think he’ll age well enough to justify an extension into his 30’s. Plus, the last couple of games he’s shown how he can lead by example–you don’t like something someone has said, show otherwise.

PirateRican21

bucsws2014

Holderman seems a keeper.

emjayinTN

As does LHRP Banuelos. He has pitched in 15 games for the Pirates and gave up 5 ER in the first game against the Yankees. Since then 14 G, 14 IP, 1 ER, 17 K/5 BB

TNBucs

I agree, but last night Banuelos’ performance led to my daughter and I (mainly me :)) discussing how sports narratives can change beyond what a player has much control over. Had Verdugo not swung at that last pitch which was well out of the zone, then Banuelos is probably replaced and the narrative is how he failed to do his job. Instead, the narrative is how he worked out of a jam by getting a big K.

AdministrativeSky236

I agree, though his xfip is over 4 and xERA is almost 3.5, just hope its not a sustained streak of luck because i would love for him to be a real asset for us

emjayinTN

Eck is Eck and is good for baseball. That said, he’s broadcasting for a team playing under .500 with a $200 Mil team salary.

roibert.kasperski

All I can see in my head is Joe Flaherty. Maybe he could show up. “You will not hit this pitch, Jackass!!!” Just no driving the Bug on the field and hitting Reynolds!

Last edited 1 month ago by roibert.kasperski
roibert.kasperski

I hereby volunteer for this extremely hazardous duty!

Last edited 1 month ago by roibert.kasperski
PirateRican21

PirateRican21

We obviously won the Chavis trade, BC is a genius!

bucsws2014

B-Rey on a tear.

chappy

So here is my question: how much has Reynolds finding himself been about the hitting coach? Has Haines helped him figure out his timing? Did Reynolds figure it out? Was Haines involved at all? This is why I have a hard time saying so and so should be fired…how would I know any of this? Perhaps Haines really helped Reynolds rediscover something, perhaps he ignored Haines, maybe it is some combination of factors, but, I as a fan, am not really in a position to know. If we are going to blame Haines when guys are not hitting, does he deserve credit when they do?

TNBucs

I’d give more credit to Haines in this case if Reynolds hadn’t done essentially the same thing going from ’20 to ’21 under Eckstein. But I agree with your point that it’s impossible to know what is going on behind the scenes. That’s where we have to trust the president, GM, and manager to make good personnel decisions. But we have a president who came in with no baseball experience, a GM who had been fired in his previous GM job, and a manager who had never been a manager and passed over for other jobs. So there’s not a track record there to justify any trust at this point.

Just writing the above reinforces my thinking that it all started with the hiring of Williams. Would I feel different if we had an established baseball person as president? I think so. But Nutting doesn’t seem to hire presidents based on their FO experience so we’re forced to compete with one less layer of baseball intelligence than some other teams have.

bucsws2014

As a former Mets fan, that 2nd strike take by Cruz… Strawberry would’ve crushed that to the other side of the Allegheny.

Last edited 1 month ago by bucsws2014
roibert.kasperski

Most likely Darryl would be doing what Oneil is doing right now if you look at Strawberry’s 1st full season with the same number of AB. Both are pretty much the same with their stats at the same time in their careers. Maybe Oneil will be crushing such a pitch when he is in his prime like the version of Strawberry that you are comparing him to.

bucsws2014

Fair point. Straw was a bit better through 192 PAs: .200/.265/.411/.676, but it wasn’t till 2nd half that he started being Strawberry (he was called up in early May).

docdon385

Uh, okay. Clemente would have hit his own bridge and Stargell the roof of the convention center, or not. So what?

bucsws2014

Who pissed in your beer? I mentioned Strawberry because similar build, LH power hitter.That pitch is in Cruz’s wheelhouse and he should be all over it.

And no, Stargell would’ve pulled that, not gone oppo, and it would’ve been low outside corner to Clemente, so triple in RF corner.

slider1971

I really like Gamel- He would make a perfect 4th OF’er on a contending team. But is there a reason why he has to be in the lineup everyday for a team that doesnt seem to care to much about wins & losses? He is an impending free agent and the only way I see him coming back is if the Pirates package a couple of their OF prospects in trades this offseason. Another decision that confuses me

PirateRican21

Allen will take over the Gamel role.

docdon385

What role is that? Taking the spot of someone who might actually have a chance to be a good ML player? By this time next year Allen will be older than Gamel is now and has yet to prove he even belongs in the majors. Gamel has shown he belongs somewhere, albeit not as an everyday player. If the Pirates are satisfied with the Gamels and Allens they most certainly will continue to be the hodgepodge team of baseball.

bucsws2014

If the role is 4th OF and you’re concerned with winning, you want a vet who can field both corners and PH, not a rook. Question remains if Pirates will be concerned with winning in 2023.

If the role is starting OF, then you go with the rook.

RAS TN

Brain-eating amoeba suspected in 2nd Midwest death, and then there is this…

NMR

Reminds me of when they rode Watson and Melancon hard for 70+ in three straight seasons before both broke.

Kudos to Melancon in particular for recovering form for a handful of productive seasons since.

AdministrativeSky236

That is really interesting, eno is a great follow for info imo

jon6er

I’m not worried about Roansy’ stuff I’m just worried about who is coaching him. If you go back and look at some of his starts in Indy he was using a change and a curve and he couldn’t get the curve near the strike zone for anyone to swing at. His control at Indy wasn’t great either. BC probably gets calls all the time from teams wanting a chance to fix the kid because it ain’t happening here.

NMR

Roansy’s slider was devastating and he really leaned on it, but I was surprised to see how ineffective the fastball was. Also effectively a two-pitch starter?

TNBucs

He seemed to have a lot of trouble locating it, from what Block and Walk were saying on the radio broadcast and what statcast shows (4-seamers called balls):

5f8988e5-d1a3-4509-b90c-16f65ef68876.jpg
NMR

‘ppreciate that buddy!

AdministrativeSky236

He definitely needs a third pitch, maybe a split or changeup would be a nice complement. 2 pitch starters dont tend to succeed unfortunately

PirateRican21

The funny thing is that he had a change up during ST, not a bad one either. The fastball did better up, I get the down and away to pair it with the slider, but is not there yet. Go back to the top of the zone and pair it with the curve, keep the slider of course.

joesolo6181

The team seemed to have quit when Voggy was traded.

NMR

#glue

docdon385

Maybe it’s only wishful thinking, but it seems to me like Shelton is acting more and more like a lame-duck manager who knows this is his last year. He’s always made poor decisions and questionable moves but lately he’s just sat back and not done much of anything except run out virtually the same line up every game and tried to look vaguely interested.

I guess he has another year on his contract and basically said he plans to be back so I’m probably reading too much into it. I doubt the Pirates are likely to pay for two managers next year, but the complete lack of energy on this team and his complacency about it have to be a serious concern especially if he does return.

Cherington’s actions between now and next season will say a lot about whether the Pirates are actually rebuilding or are just remodeling and hoping no one notices that the underlying structure isn’t sound. He needs to make some significant moves and not just continue with the same rhetoric. They need a veteran manager who knows what he’s doing instead of learning on the job and some decent veteran players to model what major league players are supposed to look like and how they’re supposed to act in the clubhouse and on the field.

If six months from now Shelton’s still the manager and all the talk is about prospects and who to take in the draft instead of about putting a good team in Pittsburgh, it might be time to wonder whether this rebuild is for real or just a way for Nutting to kill time until he can once again blame his employees and start it over again. Remember, he’s still making shitloads of money while the team flounders and his bottom line for measuring success has always been $$$$$.

TNBucs

So we still have a problem with development? What have we fixed?

Wilbur Miller

Their big achievement is nobody’s gotten arrested. That’s where the bar is now.

TNBucs

The good news is that 45 games is enough to build some momentum for next year if somehow they can reset things. The team I think about is the 1987 Pirates who were 51-66 but then went 29-16 to finish the season in their last 45 games to finish 80-82 (the year before they had gone 64-98; the next year they went 85-75). Of course we don’t have a Bonds on the roster and I don’t think Shelton is a Leyland-quality manager, but the point is that how you finish can matter.

I think Shelton’s job should be riding on how they finish–either he has the clubhouse and they play hard enough to be respectable or they continue to play the way they have so far this month. There’s no way they go 29-16 with their remaining schedule, but Fangraphs projects them to go 18-27 so I’ll say a record around 21-24 is enough for me to reluctantly say that Shelton deserves another season. Winning 15 games or fewer, and then I think he’s got to go. Trying to balance accountability and fairness. For Shelton to say he’s “very secure” in his job contradicts Cherington’s use of “urgency”–results matter so let’s see something these last 45 games.

Wilbur Miller

Good luck with the building momentum part. This team is aimlessly, sleepily wandering to the finish just like Hurdle’s last team did.

TNBucs

I’m just hoping that Shelton’s few supporters provide something tangible to what he needs to do to justify keeping his job, so I’m laying out what I think is reasonable–a low enough bar to be clearable. It’s not good enough to say he deserves a fourth year regardless because the talent hasn’t been there. While we don’t have the talent to contend, we also shouldn’t be on the verge of essentially matching the worst three-year run in the last 100+ years.

And Mackey is right saying that Shelton made a mistake saying that he was “very secure” in the job–that’s 180 degrees different from Cherington’s comment on “urgency” and makes him sound out-of-touch (similar, perhaps, to Hurdle’s last year). It’s also another of the many examples where he won’t take accountability, implying that he’s doing everything right (how else could you be “very secure”?) and the failures are entirely on the players.

Wilbur Miller

I can’t find any sympathy. Being a manager, in any field not just baseball, means getting off your ass and addressing problems when they crop up. Dumbo is content just to sit back and enjoy his clubhouse buddies, and assume “the process” will fix things. I don’t see any sign that he or Cheringtoon realizes that baseball is dynamic and requires intervention regularly.

Dumbo’s “specialty” is supposed to be hitting, yet he’s presided over the worst-hitting Pirate teams ever. It’s a massive problem that needs drastic measures to deal with it, but Dumbo’s only response is empty platitudes about more consistent ABs.

TNBucs

Even Mackey, who has been a strong supporter of Shelton, acknowledged there is something odd about Shelton’s use of VanMeter (wrt your “clubhouse buddies” comment).

Drufan11

Van Meter wishes he was Sean Rod. Not that Sean Rod was anything great but I at least thought he had a chance to hit something hard before his shoulder injury.

Wilbur Miller

The extreme downgrade in pet veteranosity guys from SRod to VM is a good measure of where this franchise is headed. The budget has gone from very low to microscopic. The talent bar has gone from hopefully-good-but-gotta-be-cheap to who-gives-a-sh*t. And the end goal has gone from competing to just-show-up-and-be-chummy-in-the-clubhouse. This teardown wasn’t just the roster, it was everything resembling major league standards.

Cobra

“There’s still 45 games to go. I can’t believe there’s still 45 to go.”

So true. It seems like so long ago but there was a window this season that was actually really fun: Suwinsky, Vogey, Castillo hitting key home runs , Bednar completely shutting the door on games, decent starting pitching, excitement over swaggerty and Mitchell getting called up.

It doesn’t show up in Bill James’ books but sometimes things click, sometimes chemistry works, sometimes players getting called up brings energy, sometime a team can collectively catch a magic carpet ride (- in this case , even winning about half of our games counts as a magic carpet ride in my book!!)

BUT We all knew what was coming: the return from injuries of Van Meter , Yoshi, gamel, marsinick , Allen et al

And we knew , damn the consequences , we were going to jam these guys back into the lineup under some delusion that they might get us some trade value, or perhaps because they were foolishly given playing time commitments when they signed here

Would we have been in the wild card hunt if they decided against bringing back those players who neither had trade value nor any chance at a future with the team? Of course not. Would it have been a pain free experience to watch the ups and downs of that younger core lineup? No.

But Cherington and Shelton sure as hell sucked all the fun out of this season by doing what they did

TNBucs

There was energy that seemed to disappear when the veterans came back and took away playing time. That could be coincidence (losing does that and maybe we would have started losing anyway), but you’re right that the decisions by Shelton and Cherington coincided with the team becoming less fun to watch. Right now there seems to be no cohesiveness and while Eckersley’s “hodgepodge of nothingness” was uncalled for, I only take issue with the “nothingness” part of that quote. The “hodgepodge” seems right as I’m not seeing a coherent plan to the roster or the season. Maybe “hodgepodge of potential and AAAA players” that combined shouldn’t be a major league roster.

Timbertopper

How about “A Hodgepodge of Nutting-ness?”

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