The Pirates lost to the Phillies, 9-7, before a crowd of mostly Phillies’ fans at LECOM Park.
The pitchers got battered early, starting with JT Brubaker. He had a quintessentially Brubaker start, struggling to throw strikes early. That led to a walk and a home run to start the game, then two singles. Following a pickoff by Austin Hedges of a runner on second and a Jack Suwinski drop of a fly ball, Brubaker then fanned the last five hitters he faced. Once he started getting ahead in the count, all of his pitches suddenly started working.
After that, the Pirates went with a string of pitchers looking to play depth roles of one sort or another. Well, except for Wil Crowe, who’s probably a lock for the bullpen. Crowe got charged with a run that wasn’t his fault when Cal Mitchell dropped a fly ball a foot or so short of the left field fence. The play was inexplicably ruled an inside-the-park home run instead of a four-base error. Crowe then fanned the next two hitters and got a weak grounder.
The rest of the damage came against Yohan Ramirez, whom some people, for some reason, seem to think is a favorite for a bullpen job, and Tyler Chatwood, who probably is in line for a starting depth role. Both got pummeled, Ramirez giving up a three-run bomb and Chatwood another three runs.
The rest of the pitchers did well, as Rule 5 guy Jose Hernandez, minor league Rule 5 guy Wei-Chieh Huang, Angel Perdomo, and Carmen Mlodzinski each threw a scoreless inning, each allowing one baserunner from various causes. Huang is another guy probably fighting for a starting depth role, Hernandez and Perdomo for bullpen jobs and Mlodzinski for his prospect status. All but Hernandez faced Phillies subs.
Hernandez threw 97-98 mph, with a slider that was . . . well, a slider. The fastball was enough to get him through the inning pretty easily, so you wonder what could happen if the Pirates can help him find a good secondary pitch. Huang threw mostly fastballs, 92-94, but mixed in the other three standard pitches.
Perdomo didn’t throw as hard as I expected, generally 93-94, and the word “sharp” didn’t spring to mind, but his fastball doesn’t seem to be easy to put wood on. He benefited from two outstanding plays by Ji-Hwan Bae, who replaced Rodolfo Castro at second mid-game. Bae ranged well to the shortstop side of the bag on two grounders and got the outs at first. Mlodzinski, interestingly, threw 95-97.
The offense from the starting lineup, in its entirety, consisted of a double by Suwinski, followed by a bomb from Ke’Bryan Hayes. Ryan Vilade, serving as DH, laid claim to a sub-replacement level veteran role by striking out both times up, as did Hedges.
The minor leaguers fared a lot better late in the game, although of course they weren’t exactly facing Aaron Nola. In fact, the last three runs came off former Pirates minor leaguer Matt Seelinger.
Drew Maggi, playing first of all positions, and Endy Rodriguez each had a single and a double. Mitchell, Lolo Sanchez and Travis Swaggerty also had hits. Mitchell was 1-for-3 but one of the outs was laced. Bae lined out and struck out. Another minor leaguer trying to get noticed, Malcom Nunez, was 0-for-2.
The later innings of the games so far hold more interest than usual. The subs are normally a combination of minor league veterans and prospects just getting some time on the field in front of a crowd. These guys, though, are really competing for roles of one sort or another, either to win a roster spot out of camp or to earn a serious look later in the year.
One final note: With the minor leaguers now taking over Pirate City, I’ve been told that the central area around the tower is open to fans, like it was pre-pandemic.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.
The score made the game seem closer than it was. It was a blowout from the start.
Their first team beat ours, 9-2, and our subs beat theirs, 5-0.
Well, it’s still not good cause Nola would’ve atleast pitched 6.
Mlod looked like a legit BP arm. Perdomo looked like a pitching machine…You can really see the ball coming out of his hand.
I’d throw Mlod in the AAA BP and fast track him to PGH. Assuming his stuff is real and he can maintain that velo.
I don’t think Suwinski is a CF’er. Swaggerty looked good out there. Appears they don’t have a plan for CF. If not Suwinski, then who? Move Reynolds back? They’re setting up for an awkward situation.
Seeing Hayes pull a fastball up and out of the park is a very good sign.
Wilbur summaries are back! Spring training edition Wilbur – you obviously are not showing the opposition your best stuff yet. You not taking a Shelton dig is like Priester not throwing his curve.
The Cobra Dozen:
Mitchell was one of the 5-6 Pirate hitters yesterday who actually looked like he knew what he was doing. IMO, folks severely underrate him. Not his glove, though.
I dunno. I saw a guy hit the ball straight into the ground three times. The hit managed to go through the pitcher’s legs. It was as if Hayes and Mitchell swapped launch angles.
Mitchell is a lefty with MLB potential with the bat but is a poor outfielder. In the Shelton era of playing weak hitting infielders in the outfield and 1b, I can’t figure out why Mitchell was not handed a 1b glove LAST year…..
dk says they have recently
They played Maggi there yesterday. Shelton will never run out of ways to avoid putting guys who can hit at the offense-oriented positions.
Wilbur you write-up on Zastrynksy had him with a velo uptick last year at 92. According to Savant, he was hitting 94 on Saturday. Have the Bucs found an under the radar viable lefty pen option here with improved stuff? Looks like he will be playing Team Canada so unsure how long a look we will have but caught my eye
I dunno. He’s really never been much good, not even in the minors.
Sure glad they kept Vilade on the 40 man instead of protecting Sabol. Where would the Pirates be without at least one worthless waiver claim on the roster?
So far, good chance the Giants come looking for a way to keep Sabol, if they cannot place him on the OD Roster.
Went 1 for 2 yesterday as a DH/C and is now 3 for 5 overall with 2 doubles. The Pirates have no need for him at either Catcher or LHDH. Joey Bart struggled at C last year, so Sabol has a real chance to break through in SF.
Swaggerty with two fine catches in center field,
BC complemented one of them while he was in the booth
BC also said in a separate segment that he lieks Swaggerty because he is the only true centerfielder we have
That being said and Jack dropping the ball and also gnabbing a hit has turned out today to be a great day for Swaggerty
That was a tough task for game 2 by our batters…..facing Nola, Kimbrel, Alvarado and Dominguez first 5 innings. Good to see Jack and Hayes hit Dominguez hard in the 5th with our first two hits. It’ll get better once the hitters get their timing and catch up to the pitchers.
I pretty much agree with everything WTM said. Esp liked the comment on Hernandez’ ‘slider’.
Bae’s range is why I’d give him the nod over Castro. I’d keep Castro as a super sub at 2b, SS, 3b.
Loved the mic’s up sessions, except for Haines who was more boring than Kevin Young. Btw, Ke’ Hayes could replace KY after he retires. It’d be a seamless transition. 😜😜😜
In listening to Haines, I was trying to disseminate whether I think he actually knows what he’s talking about. Felt more like he’s that friend who went to business school, learned all the big words to sound smart, but you know that he’s actually still not very intelligent.
Either way they handle Castro/Bae, I think the IF is set. Both are strong at 2B, and IMO, Bae is the stronger backup to Oneil Cruz at SS. Castro possibly stronger at 3B, and Bae packs the CF glove in his bag also. Overall, the Infield should be as good as the Pirates have had in a long time. Bae could be the leadoff if he shows he can handle the pitching in ST. Excellent eye, good contact skills, and steals a lot of bases.
And all that means that they’ll just keep Owings instead. 😞😞😞