At this point in the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t really playing for much.
There might be some personal goals for someone like Mitch Keller who wants to finish off strong. Or for Miguel Andujar who finds himself in a new organization after spending the entirety of his professional career with the New York Yankees.
When it comes to the younger players, it’s going to mostly be about gaining experience, where their personal goals are to simply remain in the MLB. I started thinking about this and thought it’d make an interesting Discussion Topic as I’m sure there are many opinions.
With that in mind I’m sure it would be nice for a prospect like Luis Ortiz to notch his first big league victory. But would another batter or even 10 pitches in his last start have accomplished that? We could play the “What If” game although we can’t be sure the Pirates bullpen would’ve pulled it out. Would collecting his first victory provide a moral boost that sees future benefits into next season?
The same could be said for Johan Oviedo. Or it could be said for reasons why Oneil Cruz shouldn’t be sat another game.
In the grand scheme of things, the morale boost comes from being in the majors. Any additional pitch thrown or seen has it’s value. The real work will come after the final out is made to end the season and the players head home for the winter (figuratively speaking as many will play Winter/Fall ball).
The front office, the coaches, and all the players have a tall task ahead of them after a second consecutive 100+ loss season. Third consecutive if you want to extrapolate the 2020 season that saw the Pirates with what would be the fifth worst win percentage in team history.
One could say another win or a couple of home runs could affect future arbitration salaries, but it still feels it’s a little too early and minimal as opposed to someone like Roasny Contreras or Oneil Cruz whom lost a couple potential productive months due to Super Two.
While I think fans have every reason to question Derek Shelton and Ben Cherington, the player’s drive to succeed is going to largely be internally driven by their desire to remain in the MLB. Winning matters. I’m just not entirely sure how much at this point in the season when the have Top 3 lottery odds all but locked up, as opposed to during the summer when they were getting some unexpected production from some players.
Pirates fans aren’t allowed to have nice things, therefore it rained on Ro Day, ending his evening after 54 pitches through four innings. Roansy Contreras gave up two earned runs in his short outing, collecting two strike outs to go with two hits allowed. The game would go into delay after Contreras finished the fourth inning down 2-0.
The Pirates offense benefitted from the Cincinnati Reds defense letting them down. With one out and two runners on in the fifth, Cruz hit a bloop that fell between the SS and LF. TJ Friedl — the left fielder — grabbed the ball and threw to 3B as Kevin Newman was caught up waiting to see if it’d drop. Friedl threw wide of 3B allowing Newman to score. Bryan Reynolds then hit what should’ve been an inning-ending double play but SS Jose Barrero threw the relay throw to 1B in the dirt letting Zack Collins score to tie the game.
In the bottom of the seventh inning the Pirates had runners on 1st and 2nd — one being Andujar who hit a single for his first Pirates hit — and one out when Jack Suwinski roped a ball off the right center wall plating two runs and a 4-2 lead. They would then load the bases with a hit by pitch and walk before a Newman single and Collins sacrifice fly made it 6-2.
Unsure if a four run lead would hold, the offense added two more runs in the bottom of the 8th on an Andujar sacrifice fly and Ke’Bryan Hayes single for an 8-2 lead.
Robert Stephenson pitched the ninth and gave up just a solo HR for an 8-3 victory.
Reds @ Pirates
Time: 6:35 PM EST
Pirates Starter: Mitch Keller (5-12, 3.99)
Reds Starter: Hunter Greene (4-13, 4.91)
Keller Notes: Mitch Keller will look to maintain his newly minted sub-4.00 ERA. In his previous start, he held the Chicago Cubs to two earned runs in six innings. That was his fifth consecutive start of at least six innings. This will actually be the first time New Mitch faces the Reds as he hasn’t pitched against them since seeing them in back-to-back starts on May 7th and May 13th. In those two starts he gave up 10 earned runs in 9.0 combined innings.
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 27, 2022
1. TJ Friedl (L) LF
2. Jonathan India (R) 2B
3. Kyle Farmer (R) 3B
4. Jake Fraley (L) DH
5. Spencer Steer (R) 1B
6. Aristides Aquino (R) RF
7. Mike Siani (L) CF
8. Jose Barrero (R) SS
9. Austin Romine (R) C
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.