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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

First Pitch: Pirates Fans Deserve a Long Buctober

A year ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates reached the playoffs for the first time since 1992. Exactly one year later, they clinched again. This time around, they sit 1.5 games out of first place, with an outside shot of taking the NL Central and skipping over the one-game play-in. The more likely scenario is that they would end up with home field in the Wild Card game, especially since the Giants have to make up two games just to take home field back, and have a rough schedule coming up, featuring Clayton Kershaw and Andrew Cashner in their next two games.

It’s a great feeling for Pirates fans, especially after everything that has happened in the 20 years leading up to the last two seasons. Last year, because of the streak, and because of two collapses in a row, there was skepticism on whether the Pirates could make the playoffs, at least up until they had almost locked it down. This time around, it seemed like playoffs were expected. If the Pirates finished with anything less — even if they had a winning record — it would have been seen as a disappointment. And that’s really how it should be.

Here’s another thing that should happen. The Pirates should remain contenders for years. I’m saying “should” in the sense that Pirates fans deserve for this to happen. After the long, crushing drought, it would be nice to see a streak of winning seasons and playoff appearances. You could also use the word “should” by pointing out that the Pirates have a great, young core, along with a top farm system that is ready to produce a lot of potential impact talent. Not only do Pirates fans deserve a string of winning seasons, but the talent is there to make this the expectation.

Of course, none of that is guaranteed, even if it does seem likely to happen. Which means this is the time to celebrate another winning season, and another playoff appearance, while hoping the Pirates can make some type of long playoff run this season.

A long playoff run doesn’t seem out of the question. This is a team that has taken 15 of their last 18 games. They’ve got one of the best offenses in baseball, led by a trio of players that have been better than any other trio of players for any other team in the NL this season. Their pitching staff is coming around in the last month, with a revamped bullpen, and a rotation that is healthy and featuring two pitchers looking like top of the rotation guys.

Everything seems to be coming together at the right time for the Pirates. A month ago, it looked like they could make the playoffs, but see a quick exit. Then, something clicked, and now this team looks like they could make things very interesting in October. And hopefully that will be the case, because Pirates fans have been waiting for a long time for such a run, and would deserve every minute of it.

Links and Notes

**Playoff Race Update: Pirates Clinch the Playoffs; What’s Next?

**The Pirates are Starting to Get Recognition For Being a Special Team

**Morning Report: Getting to Know the New Players in the Instructional League

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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Unrelated, but excellent article yesterday from Grantland on Bucs’ stat guru Mike Fitzgerald. http://grantland.com/the-triangle/pittsburgh-pirates-mike-fitzgerald-mit-sabermetric-road-show/

Mike C.

Yeah, I love scouring the internets for great articles about the Pirates.
BTW, check out 2 new articles on Fangraphs about Worley and J-Hay


Wow, this is some really cutting edge information IMO. Thanks for the post bucs. Tim, surprised you haven’t been all over this???


Anyone else notice Wellington Castillo auditioning to become “the next Russell Martin” last night?

Ron Loreski

If we do lose Martin, making a trade for Castillo is at the top of my list.

Mike C.

A Great night for boys and Buccos fans World Wide!!

Now the 2 big questions on my mind are, if it comes down to playing 4 home field advantage vs saving and starting Liriano/Cole at SF, what do you do?
I say starting your ACE over your #3 is more important than homefield advantage.
2nd, who DO you start if PO seeding is already determined? Is Frankie the lock, especially if it’s at PNC?
Not sure about the SF batters, but do we play the lefty/right splits and start Cole if SF plays significantly worse vs RHPs?
If so, I say start Cole vs SF.



SF is better vs LHP than RHP, especially once you account for Kershaw. Thus Cole > Liriano. Liriano has not had good success vs SF anyway over past 2 years. And as far as SF goes, Worley > Cole, though only by a small margin.

Lukas Sutton

Worley is not better than Cole unless you rely only on a SSS of numbers. You are basically giving the ball that decides the season to a guy based on 1 start against SF this year. Worley has been great, but his velo is trending down and he is as likely to give up 2-4 runs as he is shut people down. I love Worley, but no one would actually argue for him to decide our season before the start against a Brewers offense that was teerrrible the entire last week. Cole or Liriano get the ball in a must win.


True, it is a SSS for Worley, but I’m sticking with wanting Cole over Frankie. I just don’t like Liriano’s career #s vs SF, nor SF’s RH lineup in a one game winner take all.


If you look at the Giants team level splits, I have some pause declaring Cole an appreciably better match up than Liriano.


Much of the Giants performance against LHP is tied up in their LHH having a .779 OPS powered by .378 BABIP against LHP. I don’t think Crawford, and Panic, are true talent > .400 BABIP hitters against LHP, and wouldn’t be expect to perform as such.

If you look at their team splits versus right and left handed starters, they have actually performed worse against left-handed pitchers. The Giants RHH are Pence and Posey which is formidable, but after that Morse doesn’t have platoon splits and his status is in doubt, Sandoval is worse from the right side. Belt, Crawford, Panic, Blanco, are all LHH.

They could put Posey at first and Susac behind the plate and start Arias, and depending on Morse’s health that would give them a right handed heavy lineup. But then looking at Liriano and Cole’s splits versus RHH, there really isn’t much difference.



I have been a Pirate fan for 68 years and never thought of myself as long suffering, never thought that I deserved anything, still don’t. The Pirates play baseball, baseball is the greatest game in the world and I consider it a privilege to be able to watch it in my home town, win or lose.


leadoff, I often disagree with your postion on many things, however with this one, you and I are on the same page. Baseball is just like life. It’s got it’s ups and downs, it’s challenges and surprises. It’s just what it is, and if you are patient enough to allow yourself to see clearly – the joy is in the playing of the game not the results of one day, one year, or many. Every so often though a special moment and time comes to pass. A chance to celebrate. This is one of those chances and those who choose not to celebrate unless… they’re missing the point of the game. It’s a great time to be a fan of baseball in the city of Pittsburgh.

Scott Kliesen

Maybe “long suffering” is overly dramatic when used in the context of life. But being a fan of a team that holds the distinction of having the longest streak of non -winning seasons in all of professional sports allows for its use, in my opinion.


I’m actually sort of hoping for a Bucs loss tonight or tomorrow to put the idea of catching and passing StL away. I do not want a tie that forces a game in StL, probably against Waino (as StL will bump him and pitch Miller on Sunday). I just don’t like the scenario of going from Cincy (probable loss to Cueto) to StL (probable loss to Waino) and back home for a must-win game all during 3 hectic days. I prefer to get the day of rest while SF travels cross country. Keep it simple.

David Lewis

I’m hoping for the Cards to lose tonight, Friday, and Saturday, while the Pirates win their next four, so the Pirates have the division clinched before Game 162.

I want to see Game 162 with Cumpton pitching to Sanchez, with an infield of Lambo, d’Arnaud, Barmes, and Morel behind him, and Tabata, Polanco, and Snider in the outfield.


Cards can easily lose to Arrieta tonight. But losing two of three minimum to the DBags? It’s more likely Gibson throws those games just to spite us. Not that they’d have to intentionally lose. They’re simply awful and that will take care of itself.

IMO, best Bucs can hope for is that some DBag gets hit and Gibson decides to take it out on Hollidays ribcage.

Jeff Rhodes

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Cards would have to lose two to the D-Backs for the Pirates to win the division. As of this morning, the Bucs are 1.5 games out of first place. If Arrieta beats St. Louis tonight and we beat Atlanta, we’re a half-game out. And if we win on Thursday while the Cards are idle, we’ll be mathematically tied, although they hold the tie-breaker based on a better head-to-head record. If all that happens, the Pirates could win the division by sweeping the Reds and the Cards taking two of three in Arizona. The Pirates could even lose one game and still win the division if the Cardinal lose three more between now and Sunday. Obviously there area lot of “ifs” in there, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say the Cards “have” to lose two out of three to the D-backs in order for the Pirates to leapfrog them.


Yes, lots of “ifs” but honestly, I don’t see Cards possibly getting swept by AZ (or losing 2 of 3) and I don’t see Bucs beating Cueto, who’s looking for win #20 . I think even the Reds can get up for that one. Thus, best case is a tie. More likely Bucs one back.

Lukas Sutton

Yeah the Cards being idle does help us if we continue to win. Not impossible for us to run the table but i see the Pirates finishing 1 back in the division.

Joe Sweetnich

Also have to remember that Tony LaRussa is in charge of the D’Backs. Think he will do any favors for the Pirates?


Nonsense! Let’s win the divison!!


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there’s no way we could possibly play a game in StL. Think they hold the tiebreaker so any ties would go their way. Tiebreaker games are only when head to head doesn’t solve it. So go back to wanting us to win.


I actually may be wrong on this. Who knows..let’s just win it outright.


There is a one game play-in if there is a tie for the division. It would be in STL because they hold the tiebreaker.


Great night, indeed! Let’s hope the boys are sober enough to go out and win again tonight and catch the Cards before the weekend. We’re just one back in the loss column with the extra Thursday game in front of us. So, beating up on Braves Sept call ups over the next couple days is certainly doable.

As for the long term view, “should” is right. But, we’d better re-sign Russ and solve for a likely Liriano departure. Those two losses, alone, could make for a tough 2015, and beyond.

But, first things first. Let’s win it all is year!

Scott Kliesen

What a night! Had the pleasure of sitting with a throng of other long suffering Pirates fans behind the visitor dugout last night as the Pirates clinched a post season birth. Last night’s game pretty well summed up the season, rough start, a great comeback, and a lock down finish for the win.

My hats off to the entire Pirates organization, starting w Bob Nutting, NH, CH, the rest of the management team, and especially the players for turning around this rudderless franchise and making it one of the best in all of baseball. It’s a true pleasure to be a Pirates fan right now.

Let’s make it a BUCTOBER to remember Pirates!!!


As I type this, I’m sitting in the same room in my house where I painfully watched Game 7 of the ’92 playoffs – it was agonizing, in part, because, along with most Pirate fans, we knew that with the imminent departure of Bonds, etc., 1992 would be the last chance for the Pirates – we just didn’t know it would be the last chance for more than 20 years. What a collection of memories. Since ’92, I have traveled to Three Rivers, PNC, Bradenton, Wrigley, Milwaukee, Houston, Denver, San Diego, and San Francisco hoping to see a competitive team – finally, we have one! In equal parts, I’m trying to enjoy this moment, and remember that opportunities like these can be fleeting things – maybe they will last a decade and maybe they won’t. Good luck to the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans! TW is right, after all these years, the team and the fans deserve all the good things that may come their way.

Scott Kliesen

Greg, I can still picture myself crawled up in the fetal position lying in front of my TV on that horrible night in ’92. Although last night doesn’t make up for that devastating loss, it sure was nice to celebrate in that stadium.

Nathan Ward

Yup. I can vividly picture myself, as a 15 year old kid, standing frozen in front of a 13″ TV in my bedroom for what felt like an eternity after “the Slide.” I now am making sure to once again cherish every single second of fall baseball. After 20 years you really begin to understand how fleeting these moments can be.

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