LECOM Park witnessed two rarities today. For one, the Pirates won a game. They beat Minnesota, 5-2, to vault their spring record to 2-5-2. For another, the crowd was actually rooting for the Pirates.
Starter J.T. Brubaker was impressive. After a leadoff single, he took the next nine batters apart, four on strikes. He had his secondary stuff, especially the slider, working well, and it made his sinker much more effective.
Probably coincidentally, after the possible injury to Jarlin Garcia, three of the lefty hopefuls appeared for an inning each. Jose Hernandez and Angel Perdomo were shaky, command-wise. They each started by serving up a dinger, to the same guy no less. In the end, the stuff overcame the dubious command and there was no more damage. A third lefty, Caleb Smith, also had trouble throwing strikes but had a 1-2-3 inning anyway.
Colin Holderman appeared in between Hernandez and Perdomo. He needed eight pitches. His name is the one that usually seems to come up in response to the question, Who’s standing out this spring? I heard that again today. Holderman has to be the odds-on favorite to set up David Bednar. Duane Underwood, Jr., also had an uneventful inning apart from hitting a guy.
Dauri Moreta finished. He gave up a leadoff walk, which is one of the most annoying things that can ever happen in sports. (The walkee was recent Pirates’ minor league rule 5 loss Yoyner Fajardo.) Moreta also gave up a single, but fanned two and escaped with no damage. He again threw more changeups and sliders than sinkers.
The hitters did enough. The infield competition was variable. Rodolfo Castro, starting at third, went 2-for-3. One hit was a bloop. The other ended a nice at-bat. He fell behind 0-2, but stayed with the pitch and hit an RBI single up the middle. (You remember singles up the middle, right? They’re baa-aack.) Ji-Hwan Bae was 0-for-3. Chris Owings went oppo for a two-run shot. He’s probably been set in stone all along as the requisite sub-replacement veteran and he’s not hurting himself.
The outfield competition was represented by Jack Suwinski, starting in center again, and Cal Mitchell. They each went 1-for-3. Suwinski struck out his first two times up, then doubled. Mitchell had a two-run single.
Among the mass substitutions, Drew Maggi, the spring’s hottest hitter, had a swinging bunt single. Andres Alvarez lined a double to left.
Andrew McCutchen got hit on the hand by a pitch and left, but reports now are that he’s fine. The umps called it a foul ball because a ball hitting flesh sounds just like one hitting wood, if you’re a space alien. Henry Davis replaced Cutch and had the fun of drawing a one-pitch walk. Davis batted once and hit a laser right at the shortstop.
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.
Wilbur, you recently used the term “whiffery” in reference to a high strikeout rate at the major league level. I know Mason Martin is a K machine. But in general, are there better contact hitters among prospects in the minors? To put it another way: Is there whiffery at the periphery?
Endy. Dude absolutely has a plan every AB.
Johnson has a plan — to hit the snot out of the ball.
Did anyone else audibly sigh when Owings hit the dinger like I did? lol
I am firmly in the Owings camp……if for nothing else, for the Wilbur editorial entertainment!
Bru had good stuff, my takeaway from March 6th ST games👍🙏
He was impressive. Just carved em up. I’m very hopeful about him,
I think he struggled out of the gate just a bit last year, then went on like a 15-20 game heater. He faded at the end of the year, maybe his last 5-6 starts were rough.
I think he can put it all together this season and get 2.5-3.0 WAR. As far as missing bats, he’s the best in the rotation.
When he’s on, that slider is money. I remember years ago Tim said he had the best slider in the system and Tim got a lot of pushback. Turns out, Tim was right on.
I was starting to worry about the Rotation, but Hill, Keller, and BRU, is a good place to start. We need 2 or 3 others to step up over the next few weeks.
A summary from statcast
Good stuff. Caleb Smith fastball down 3.7 mph from earlier outing. Worrisome…..it seems the Pirate announcers don’t know about his partially torn ligament.
Bru looked good today.
Really thought you were going to say Hank got hit with the next pitch. Little victories, I guess.
Only thing I can think at this point is that Davis being a catcher doesn’t care about being hit by a ball, so he uses it to his advantage to get on base…
Davis passed the Jason Kendall Red Ass test. That’s a sign of respect.
I agree. Just wish he would wait until he is playing in the MLB get pegged.