The Pittsburgh Pirates finished up their second series of the season, and have played six games overall. After a huge midweek series sweep at Fenway against the Boston Red Sox, they own a record of 4-2.
It’s still early to make any kinds of actual assessments, but here are six observations, six games into the season.
– Mitch Keller was nasty on Wednesday, pitching seven innings and striking out seven batters. Props to Derek Shelton for giving him another batter so he can have an opportunity to finish the inning out.
He started a little iffy with the control, but by the end of the game he was pumping pitches into the strike zone. He threw 18 sinkers on the day, 11 of which were called strikes. He only got ten whiffs on the 52 swings against him, but also had nine groundouts to just one flyout.
– Not sure how maintainable the bullpens’ success is, but they’ve been really good early on. If anything, at least we know what role everyone seems to have this season, which that on its own is a positive.
With the defined roles, it’s made Shelton’s job to manage the bullpen a lot easier.
– This team is clearly going to be pitching to contact more than chasing strikeouts, so it will be key that the defense plays strong behind them. Ji-Hwan Bae made that fantastic play Tuesday night, and has shown good range at second base at times.
Oneil Cruz had a really bad throw earlier in the week, but otherwise has been solid at shortstop as well.
Carlos Santana has been fantastic at first base, not only picking the ball, but ranging and making plays on his own. Plus he finally had that big game at the plate they’ve been waiting for, picking up a double, walk and home run on Wednesday.
– It’s almost like he told us it wouldn’t be a distraction, and that someone playing for potentially $100+ million like Bryan Reynolds is would have extra motivation. Fantastic start to the season for the outfielder.
– Not sure how much I buy Rob Zastryzny as a long-term, or even the rest of the season, option, but the Pirates really needed someone to step up in the bullpen after Jarlin Garcia went down with an injury, and he’s really delivered. He leads the team in appearances, and has only allowed one run in those four games.
– Even before you look at the numbers, you can just see any gap between Bae and Rodolfo Castro continuing to widen. Both have added paths to get extra playing time away from second base, but Bae just continues to make contributions all over the place, and have competitive at-bats.
Way too early to panic when talking about Castro on his own, but when looking at his potential opportunities on this team currently, it’s only getting smaller and smaller with each strikeout that’s followed by an impact play from Bae.
Daily Video Rundown
Welcome to the Pirates Prospects daily video rundown, where we pull some of the top videos of the Pittsburgh Pirates across the internet.
Carlos Santana's first home run in Black & Gold. pic.twitter.com/8jBBQmEuFC
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 5, 2023
Carlos Santana has played some great defense at first up to this point, but Wednesday was his first offensive explosion at the plate, walking once, while picking up a double and home run.
When you look up 'perfect bunt' in the dictionary, you'll see this. pic.twitter.com/qpPuyEKURm
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 5, 2023
Ke’Bryan Hayes with a wonderfully placed bunt to not only get a base hit, but score a run as well.
Mitch Keller, K'ing the Side pic.twitter.com/kdqXItCM3K
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 5, 2023
Keller pitched to contact a lot, but was still able to dial back at times and get some strikeouts. Here he strikes out the side in the fifth inning, picking up three of his seven total on the day.
Pirates Prospects Daily
By John Dreker
Pirates are off today, Indianapolis was postponed due to weather yesterday, but today is minor league preview today. We will be posting previews for all four full-season teams today. Stay tuned. Lots to read below if you missed anything yesterday.
**Pirates Recap: Keller Stellar As Bucs Sweep Through Fenway
**Williams: Do the Pirates Have the Makings of a Shutdown Bullpen?
**Pirates are Favorites to Sign a Top Pitching Prospect from Panama Pirates are lining up to make a splash in Panama in January
**Pirates Have the Highest International Bonus Pool for the 2023-24 Signing Period Bucs will have a lot of money available to make that splash and much more
**Pirates Have the Highest Draft Bonus Pool in 2023 Pirates will have a lot to spend in the draft as well
**Pirates Prospects Daily: Tucupita Marcano Flashing Glove, Power In Early Season
**Pirates DVR: Quinn Priester Strikeout, Back-To-Back Home Runs, Ji-Hwan Bae Home Run and Catch
Song of the Day
Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.
6 games is not enough to say Bae has separated himself from Castro. Sorry, that’s ridiculous.
A few tidbits:
I think defensive efficiency is a decent stat at the team level. In 2021-22 the Pirates ranked 24th and 27th. In our tiny sample size so far this year, they’re fifth.
They have three errors so far, putting them right at MLB avg in fldg pct. Last year they were easily last. It’s not a great measure, but you could easily see the bumbling last year.
Last year the Pirates got their first three game win streak on June 1. Their first four-game streak (nojinx) came on July 12. They never won five straight.
Their first series sweep came against the Dodgers on May 30-June 1, also on the road.
That Boston lineup was garbage. $183M payroll for that? guess losing Story for the season was the big blow.
That’s a pretty hefty exaggeration calling it garbage.
Well when you have guys like Yu, who wasn’t good enough for last year’s Pirates, not to mention career WAR 2.0 Reese McGuire behind the plate, you’re not looking at Murderer’s Row.
Hefty, Hefty – slid that one right by everyone!
I wouldn’t call it garbage, but $183M and they’re playing Yu Chang?
Red Sox lineup is certainly not garbage. They’re probably a middle of the pack hitting team without Story.
The only thing separating the projected Red Sox lineup (25 WAR) from the Pirates (22 WAR) is a massive opening projection of 3 WAR for Masataka Yoshida, who could just as easily suck.
Garbage. Garbage lineup.
Wasn’t impressed with Yoshida – soft grounders & poor swing decisions, probably should’ve caught Reynolds’ double too
Player rankings, per Fangraphs:
Brey is tied with 4 other players with a .7 WAR to lead positional player WAR. Next highest Buc is Cutch with a .3. Cruz at .2
Bednar & Mitch Keller lead the pitching staff with a .3 WAR
19th in Runs Scored
8th in Runs Against
Worst performers so far:
Hayes, Castro, & Oviedo all with a -.3 WAR so far
Somehow, Bae & Santana have the worst Defensive value so far, at -.6. Don’t know what Bae could’ve done differently so far
Bae – he didn’t keep the ball in front of him yesterday, which scored a run. I also remember him cutting in front of Cruz on a grounder in Cincy, and it hit off his glove. His arm has also not impressed. I like Bae, but he is a work in progress in the field.
The catch in Boston doin’ a looooot of work on the perception of his early-season play.
Trying to make an observation based on an week of the season is a fool’s errand. (And AM is NOBODY’s fool). 😂😂😁
I think I disagree. The growing Bae/Castro gap seems very real; batters working deeper counts seems consistent noticeable; bullpen trends noticeable. And what else are we supposed to talk about on a daily basis? 😆 Great column from Anthony
I stand by my SSS observation. 😁😁😁
“…batters working deeper counts seems consistent noticeable’
Not defending Castro, but this is who he is, would shock me if he goes on a hot streak soon.
My observation is that with McCutchen, Santana, and Hill on the roster the manager and those above him are playing to win every game, otherwise it would be uncomfortable for everyone involved. You can see this in letting starters throw more pitches, and at-bats, playing time, and relief appearances are earned via performance and not because of some blueprint for the future.
I was hoping by signing some of these veterans they would take on some of the coaching/mentoring roles for the younger guys. Maybe speak up to the Shelton if they disagree with something he did. Not be afraid they would be sent back to AAA to hang out with Swags.
“hang our with Swags”, love that line. I would like to see Swags helping the team out with CF defense and on the base paths, if not, you know, I think his hitting is up to the standards of others on the club!
With SB’s up this year I would love to see the Pirates steal more often. Looking forward to whenever he gets called up. Not tearing the cover off the ball out of the gates in AAA but it’s early. Swags is like a microwave. He can heat up quickly.
If they were playing to win every game, they would have signed better players than Santana, Hill and Cutch. While these guys may be better than what the Pirates trotted out last year they are still mediocre players who nothing but placeholders while the front office waits for more younger and cheaper players to emerge.
They are still punting the current season for some hope of future success.
Cutch has an eye-popping .522 on base percentag with seven walks and only 3 Ks. Something this team needs.
Cutch looks great, his hands are still quick to the ball, he is handling RF easily, and his 0.3 WAR after 6 games backs that up. Wait and see on Santana and Hill, but neither have seemed over-matched so far. At some point age will catch up with all three, but doesn’t have to be this year.
Likely not a ton of better players that are in their price range and are also willing to sign here.
Castro has in the last two years shown signs of being a good offensive player. The league adjusted and now pitches to his weaknesses. So, Castro is currently clueless at the plate. Whether he recovers is yet known. As for Bae, the league has not decided how to pitch to him. They will and he’ll have difficulties. Then we’ll see whether he adjusts. The point I’m making is the verdict on both of these guys is still up in the air.
Love that Keller seems to have ‘figured it out.’
The most uplifting aspect of the Pirates play this week is how they responded to the Red Sox scoring 5 runs in the 1st inning of game 1. There was every reason to believe they would lose this game given how hot the Sox bats were and how flat the team looked in Cincinnati last weekend.
The fact they overcame the adversity of that moment and rode it to a series sweep is downright encouraging to see.
Yeah, I was waiting for the “Here we go again” stumble to a huge loss, but the team surprised.
This is a very good point.
Leaders develop into winners, and then they help every other player/pitcher do better. Bryan Reynolds fits that description right now, and Mitch Keller is quickly developing into that type of guy to lead the Pitchers. Same with David Bednar in the BP.
We want Reynolds for 2 FA Years? Forget keeping him for 8 and pay him now –
$5 mil Signing Bonus payable upon signing
2024 – $15 mil
2025 – $18 mil
2026 – $21 mil
2027 – $25 mil
Havent commented in awhile but still reading up daily on this great site/authors and commentors. I’ll keep it simple, bored many with my Bae Crush the past few years but he looks like, makes stat guys and me actually cringe saying this, that he has something special. The overall plan to be more competitive seems thoughtful, finally…. Lots to root for in 2023 in terms of progress and development, this should be a fun 2023 and already optimisic for 2024. GO BUCS👍
Bae has come out very strong and looking like he has all of the skills, enthusiasm, and desire it takes to be a difference maker for a team. Bae also has that SB tool that he will start to show as he gains confidence at the MLB level, and an excellent eye at the plate. A gift from the Braves, and a tip of the cap to NH who had the smarts to sign Bae!
I think Castro will come out of his ST and early season funk, but just glad the club had the smarts and confidence to put them both on the 26. Bae is a 2B, CF, SS and Castro is a 2B, 3B, SS.
Good stuff EMJTN, Baes nice start to the year doesnt mean we should think differently abt Castro, they will both have ups and downs and super cool we can leverage both and allow them to grow during boths learning curves👏👍👍
Bae is my new favorite player. I am addicted to stolen bases. I there was a SB anonymous I would attend.
Welcome to the Foo Bae club. We’ve been in operation over two years. Membership is free.
Thanks for the warm welcome. I couldn’t get passed the bouncers to any of the past meetings. But I have finally been accepted. Just glad to be around some like minded people.
I could’ve sworn I fired that bouncer. 😂😂😂
The one with the huge biceps but tiny calves? Or is that most bouncers?
Did he have a tattoo that said ‘Bae Bee’?? I kept him.
He is the one that let me in. It was in a heart with an arrow through it. Below it read “Sweet as Honey”
You’re both good men! 😁😁
Angel Basabe and other minor leaguers quoted in the biggest story of the year thus far
What story? Wouldn’t know it reading this site!
KeBryan better start hitting or we will start hearing rumors of Nick nipping at his tail at third base
The Pirates see him as a core piece. He isn’t in danger of losing his job.
One of the knocks on Gonzales is that he is a one position (2B) defensive player. Bae, Castro, Marcano, Peguero, etc. all have multiple position capability. It’s the trend, and a plus with roster development. They tried G at SS, but that did not go well.
Just ONE of the knocks? 🙂 🙂
I have heard others, but the ability to play multiple positions seems to be where the Pirates see their MI’s, especially their second basemen. Cruz is where he needs to be for the Pirates right now, and Hayes generates great numbers of fWAR based mostly on his outstanding defense at 3B.
I think Jared Triolo will possibly be our next multi-positional IF. 2B, 3B, CF, SS. I am sure there are many teams watching the Pirates anxiously waiting to pick up some excellent prospects cheap. When the trades begin in July, I predict we will see prospects added by the Pirates to get a better overall and younger pitching or hitting prospect in return.
no reason that his floosey hitting needs to continue