Pirates Discussion: Phillies Come to Town for PHour Games

Second half offense in the league is up so far. Way up.

Unfortunately not for the Pittsburgh Pirates as of yet. They had a Pre All-Star break OPS of .660 and so far their Post All-Star break is .506 (Per Fangraphs).

It’s only a week’s worth of games removed from the break, but offense has so far risen from a league average of .707 OPS to .739 OPS (Numbers from Fangraphs as of Wednesday afternoon).

Here are the splits from the previous three full seasons:

  • 2021 – 1st Half : .718 OPS  — 2nd Half: .739 OPS
  • 2019 – 1st Half: .754 OPS — 2nd Half: .762 OPS
  • 2018 – 1st Half: .725 OPS — 2nd Half: .731 OPS

This would be a much higher difference if it were to hold over the rest of the season. But it wouldn’t be too much of an outlier as 2021 saw a relatively similar second half surge when compared to 2018 and 2019 which saw far smaller increases. 2020 was a shortened season that saw a first half .738 OPS and a second half .742 OPS.

If this is indeed a trend towards a consistent uptick in offense, it should create an interesting test for Pirates’ pitchers who have been seeing positive results lately.

This weekend the Pirates will face the Philadelphia Phillies for four games. Philly brings in an offense that sits 11th in MLB with a .725 OPS, or 6th in the NL. They have also hit 126 HR’s which is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 6th in MLB. Their pitching staff carries a 3.79 ERA that is 9th in MLB.

The Phillies themselves haven’t gotten off to a strong second half having lost four of their six games post All-Star break. One thing they have in common with the Pirates is they were recently swept by the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley. They are essentially out of the NL East division race — not mathematically as the New York Mets could always Mets at any time — sitting 9.5 games back of the New York Mets, but are currently in a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot.

We probably shouldn’t expect any offensive outbursts from the Pirates, but again this should be a nice test for the Pirates pitching staff.

Phillies @ Pirates

Time: 7:05 PM EST

Pirates Starter: Zach Thompson (3-7, 4.64)

Marlins Starter: Zack Wheeler (8-5, 2.78)

Thompson Notes: Zach Thompson had already reached a career high in games started recently, and in his previous start against the Miami Marlins set a new career high in MLB innings pitched in a season with 75.2 IP (previous high was 75 IP in 2021 for Marlins). In 2021 he pitched a total of 90 innings between MLB and Triple-A, and he is closing in on that number quickly. In 2016 while with the Chicago White Sox organization  he pitched a total of 140.2 innings between two levels. He had one of his worst starts to date for the Pirates in his last start when he gave up seven earned runs in 5.1 IP. He’ll look to get back on track after breaking a streak of seven consecutive starts without allowing more than two earned runs in a game.

LINEUPS:

Pirates

1. Kevin Newman (R) 2B
2. Oneil Cruz (L) SS
3. Ke’Bryan Hayes (R) 3B
4. Ben Gamel (L) LF
5. Bligh Madris (L) RF
6. Greg Allen (S) CF
7. Cal Mitchell (L) DH
8. Josh VanMeter (L) 1B
9. Tyler Heineman (S) C

Phillies

1. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
2. Rhys Hoskins (R) 1B
3. Alec Bohm (R) 3B
4. Darick Hall (L) DH
5. Nick Castellanos (R) RF
6. Bryson Stott (L) 2B
7. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
8. Matt Vierling (R) CF
9. Garrett Stubbs (L) C

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PiratePrimate

Bad baseball stinks! But if a fish rots from the head down so do the Pirates.

Last edited 13 days ago by PiratePrimate
Wilbur Miller

GMBS and Dumbo are, of course, going to spin this as some sort of win.

Wilbur Miller

If you take away Dumbo, they won lots more games.

jon6er

I see Shelton leaving Thompson in for that 99th pitch paid off….for the Phils!

jtkuch

All I ask is, if you must pitch a position player, make it Cruz. That’ll at least be fun to watch

chappy

I have very mixed feelings about this season. I like the step forward I have seen in the starting pitching, which is very important moving forward. What I strongly dislike about this season is that the team became interesting and exciting in June when we brought up a boatload of youngsters. It appeared we had finally committed to sifting through our young players and allowing them to accumulate at-bats and experience. I was looking forward to the rest of the season, but then BC moved away from that by reinstating all of the crappy, dead end veterans. The poster child for that inexplicable move away from the growth and the future is Josh Van Meter. What the heck is this guy doing on our roster, playing every day? If he does well, who cares? If doesn’t do well, it is galling that he is taking at bats away from the young guys. This makes me question the competency of BC. He may just be punting on this season, but in that case, he could have a roster full of young guys who are still accomplishing something by getting more and more acclimated to MLB. This second stretch of dead-end uninspiring veterans trotting out there everyday is as bad as any lineup put out by the Bucs in the last years of David Littlefield. Play the prospects!

skliesen

Then you layer on the service manipulation crap they’re pulling with Contreras, and it’s a perfect formula for pissing off what’s left of the fanbase!

And this from a guy whose default setting is Pollyanna Pro Management.

docdon385

Does it really matter if they lose 1-0 or 7-0? Sure, this team needs more talent but the biggest problem is the lack of vitality, vigor and enthusiasm. Those things are just not there and there are no signs of finding any of it. Drastic change is needed and soon or this impotence and complacency will just grow.

Wilbur Miller

Looks like a Shelton Shellacking coming up. A Dumbo Drubbing.

jon6er

Shelton wanted Zach to clear off the bases so he could give Stratton a clean inning

1979andCounting

Can’t deviate from “the schedule” drawn up pre-game.

jon6er

lol

Mblee24

Will this team win another game. There is no doubt they lose over 100 again. What a mess they have turned into. Hard to see in bright spots right now on this team.

hoffmark83

You’re right. Other than Cruz and maybe Keller, there haven’t been many bright spots lately and they are very dim bright spots.

skliesen

That was a great defensive play by Cruz. Showing off that 80 arm after going deep in the hole. Beautiful!

PirateRican21

Nice play Oneil!

1979andCounting

There will be plenty of posts this winter about FA spending. But for today, there’s just a cavernous gulf between a $26 mil pitcher like Wheeler vs. the #4 -#5 starters that we run out there year after year. And when your defense has misques every game, and your offense is impotent, that’s how 2-8 stretches become the norm.

emjayinTN

Last weekend (hopefully) for – Quintana, Stratton, Underwood, Gamel, Chavis, Newman, Tsutsugo, Marisnick, VanMeter, Allen – the first 6 have helped the franchise and could possibly return something in trade, the last 4 just need to leave – DFA probably on Aug 3rd..

Then maybe we can actually begin to build or rebuild – whichever term we are using these days.

PirateRican21

If you haven’t seen it, go watch the inside the park Home run by Mancini…..High fly ball to right the RF couldn’t see it, it him on the face and bounce out to the foul line…..

1979andCounting

Are you suggesting Madris lost that ball in the sun? That crossed my mind.

PirateRican21

It was an easy catch.

Jeff

So Madris has been playing 1st base in Indy lately. Mitchell meanwhile, has played a solid RF when he has been in there.
so of course, Madris plays RF and Mitchell DH.

jon6er

So pointless not to play Madris at first, Mitchell in rf and dh Shelton’s Srod VanMeter.

Wilbur Miller

Thompson was outstanding for three months and now he’s back to throwing BP.

docdon385

This entire team is a feckin’ mess. It needs leadership and it’s no where in sight. The players who should be leaders are just standing around watching third strikes down the middle of the plate, and not only Hayes, and the manager and coaching staff are absent. Something has to happen to shake things up. Start by firing the manager and entire coaching staff and get these guys attention.

Wilbur Miller

When it’s painfully obvious that the FO and manager could care less about winning games, why should the players care?

Jeff

Always something with this bottom feeding team.
1st inning screw up by Madris.

1979andCounting

Wth was that? That was not a difficult catch, and he freaking muffed it.

PirateRican21

Castillo makes that catch! #playinfieldersintheoutfield!

chappy

Down 3-0 with our lineup. 90 % chance this game is over.

NMR

Ben should f*ck around and get Joey Gallo. Why not!

Last edited 13 days ago by NMR
PiratePrimate

You could definitely make this team much worse by acquiring Gallo if that’s the objective.

chappy

What did Diego Castillo do to Shelton? Why are we not playing him?

roibert.kasperski

Saw the lineup pop up on my phone and no Reynolds….. had the “Oh sh*t” moment. Jumped on here to see what was up. Glad to see it was…….the paternity leave 😁

1979andCounting

Which begs the question of the F.O…….did we really need to bring BRey off the IL for 2 games in Chicago after an oblique injury, which have a history of not healing quickly and flaring up again when returning too soon? Risk/reward……for a team 16 games under.

chappy

I was thinking the same…

hoffmark83

Does anything the F.O. do make sense?

Catch_22

Max Meyer to undergo TJS

That was my first impulse when he exited the Pirates game after a handful of pitches.

ArkyWags

Dang, I hate to see that. I’ve got a soft spot for short guys with nasty stuff. Hope he makes it back ok.

NMR

This has been My Thing lately, so fair warning it’s not directly Pirate related, but what a fantastic player dev article that talk specifically about developing plate discipline:

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/torontos-hunter-mense-on-developing-good-swing-decisions/

john_fluharty

You think it’s just a matter of them encouraging the players to take more pitches, be more patient? The guys at the lower levels seem to strike out and walk a lot.

NMR

I think it’s awfully tough, if not impossible, for us on the outside to see…at least at the level of detail and sophistication the Blue Jays are using.

Bryan Reynolds seems to consistently have the best plan at the plate combined with eye to recognize what he’s seeing. Swing rates align very well with xwOBA based on Statcast stuff. Jack best among youngsters. Many of the rest, hard to tell whether or not they have trouble picking the ball up or are just lost on approach.

NMR

Love seeing you take your place in Pirate discourse, buddy. One of the good guys!!

bhritz

I’m not a Zach Thompson believer but it would be a win if he could become a dependable #5 for a year or two.

Catch_22

He and Wilson are fodder depth imo.

john_fluharty

If we get to the point where guys like Thompson and Wilson are fighting for the number five spot then our rotation is in pretty good shape.

skliesen

He looks like a keeper to me. Starter or Reliever isn’t that big of concern to me. Just as long as he’s effective in the role he’s assigned.

b mcferren

I see him being traded for Jo Adell in a few days

SufferinBuccotash

More likely Adele.

AdministrativeSky236

Its really unfair to baseball history that arte moreno ended up with mike trout

PirateRican21

Don’t follow them at all even though they are my hometown team, but why is Arte to blame and not the GM’s. He spends a fair amount, but the GM brings in guys like Rendon instead of pitchers. The construction of this team has been horrible, is he overriding the GM?

AdministrativeSky236

Yeah from what I have heard, he loves to approve big star signings but will cut every corner in areas like scouting, paying minor leaguers, etc. I could definitely be wrong but he seems to demand stars and no depth from what ive heard

ArkyWags

Throughout his tenure as owner, Arte has been known to meddle in the least productive ways. Also he gave Sciosia a ton of power and they lost at least one GM that way (I think it was DiPoto).

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