The day after the Pittsburgh Pirates received an absolute gem from Mitch Keller, the potential momentum from that game did not materialize. Tim Williams recently wrote about “This is When the Pirates Need That Veteran Presence”, but that also hasn’t materialized.
With Vince Velasquez going on the injured list, the Pirates decided to recall Luis Ortiz, as well as select the contract of Josh Palacios. For three innings, it was going rather well with a 1-1 game.
The Colorado Rockies got on the board first, with a Jurickson Profar solo home run in the second inning. The Pirates then tied the game in the third when Andrew McCutchen singled in Ke’Bryan Hayes, who had hit a one-out double.
After the first two batters reached on singles in the fourth, Ortiz induced a groundball to Carlos Santana that could’ve been a double play, or in the least have gotten an out at second base. Unfortunately, Tucupita Marcano didn’t catch the throw from Santana — whether he just took his eye off it or was somehow distracted by the runner — and the ball rolled into right field. That opened the flood gates with a runner scoring on the play, and the Rockies would score four runs in total in the inning. With only one of the four being earned.
Ortiz ended up finishing the evening with five runs against in five innings, but only two being earned. He gave up seven hits and one walk, while only striking out one. Per Baseball Savant, his most used pitch was a sinker, but if I’m honest, I’m not sure yet if it’s actually a new pitch or it was just being tracked as one due to it’s movement. His fourseam fastball had its usual movement, so it may be a new pitch.
The bullpen took over in the sixth inning, and it was a mixed bag of results. Rule 5 selection Jose Hernandez had a clean sixth, retiring the side on only seven pitches with one strike out. Derek Shelton opted to leave Hernandez in to begin the seventh, and he walked Charlie Blackmon before Duane Underwood Jr. entered the game and it got out of hand.
Underwood Jr. would let the lone inherited runner score, as well as four more to push it to a 10-1 game. The inning was capped off by another Profar home run, one of the two-run variety this time.
That would be the final score, as the Pirates managed only four hits while walking six times. They also struck out eleven times, while hitting 1-for-8 with RISP, and leaving ten men on base.
The Pirates offense scored 16 runs in the nightcap of their double header against the Washington Nationals on April 29th. That gave them a total of 22 runs on the day, if you count game one as well. They have scored 12 runs since, in nine games.
If they’re not scoring, they need players to step up in other facets of the game. The pitching has been debatable, but the defense has been atrocious. One could look past a few mishaps if they were hitting — the very thing people shrug and give Oneil Cruz a pass for — but you can’t have non-shortstops who also aren’t hitting.
Rodolfo Castro was doing it in somewhat limited Cruz-like fashion, at least showcasing some pop in the bat. Ji Hwan Bae and Marcano don’t show near enough offense to be mediocre at the position, and next up is probably Chris Owings, who may be the best fielder of the bunch, but likely to also not provide much offense.
The outfield hasn’t been much better, as Bae’s full-speed style caught up to him, in making a few misplays in the center. Miguel Andujar has looked rough in the outfield, and Jack Suwinski’s defensive metrics are heading in the wrong direction.
They’ll have an off-day after their finale against the Rockies on Wednesday, two off-days in the next five days, or three off days in the next eight. Hopefully they can find a reset button, take a deep breath, and get back to playing closer to how they did prior to this stretch.
Even with all the recent losing, they’re still first in the NL Central.
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.
Mackey recently tweeted…
Swaggerty (viral illness) doing all baseball activities at Triple-A Indy. They expect him to return games later this month.
Cruz “looking really good” Not weight bearing yet.
Velasquez will throw live BP early next week. Optimistic he’ll miss the minimum.
Great news on Cruz and Velasquez. Really hope Cruz doesn’t have any long term issues from fracture.
I really want to be optimistic about the future and this hot start has been a tremendous amount of fun…
But when I look at how much draft and trade capital Cherrington has had to work with part of me wonders what the hell he has been doing??
Maybe I’m misreading things… but just seems like there should be more help on the horizon than there is.
Here is an interesting video from CloseCallSports from an interference call during Mets/Reds game. It’s interference on a fielded ball but the same rule covers interference on a thrown ball. My take after seeing this video is that Diaz did interfere with the throw. However the video said it’s not reviewable so there’s that.
Amazing that Shelton gets his extension and almost immediately the horrible fundamental baseball is back. I realize it is small sample size (and possibly coincidence) but it supports the position that the extension was somewhere between premature and idiotic.
They were making the same fundamental blunders when they were playing well earlier but they were out hitting and out pitching those mistakes. The really poor lack of fundamentals and baseball smarts from the past several years are still there.
When they were winning, the fundamentals were just fine. They were stealing bases at will and taking the extra base.
Their baserunning metric on Fangraphs has them 8th in MLB. You r comment doesn’t hold water.
They’re losing due to a number of reasons – They’re not hitting, young players making young player mistakes, pitching depth not as good as some thought and not having a competent SS with Cruz out.
But the majority of the *blunders* are coming from Bae & Castro
Bae made some nice plays earlier in the year, but truth be told, even those were largely due to being an inexperienced CF and making up poor routes with his speed.
Is Cruz really the guy to settle the ship? I don’t know brother.
Probably not and he would have his own head scratching moments, but the lineup would be deeper and more dangerous. Definitely not saving these blowout losses though
This is sort of the bed they’ve made themselves. This is not a sound defensive team, even at full strength, nor does it project to be one in the future. Intentional tradeoffs that are being made in favor of offense.
Thought: since castro seems to mash from the right side, why not just have him skip hitting lefty and put him everyday in the middle infield from the right side
My guess is that Castro would be totally overmatched by rhp breaking stuff batting righty. That is why he switch hits.
Good point, im sure theres a reason he continues to roll out there from both sides, just interesting that he mashes from one side not the other
At the end of the day, Castro probably isn’t good at Beisbol.
Truth, his ceiling is probably bench bat/role player or weak link on a good team but any value we could get from him right now would be a plus
Baes shine has worn off, every time hes in the field recently he seems to cost us runs. I dont know who we call up instead but somebody mentioned jose iglesias is chillin at AAA for SD, thats an interesting option to me
With Crowe and De Jong gone, Underwood is the next man up on the plank
Ortiz pitched a good game and didnt deserve that line
I thought he held his composure very well when that circus of an infield was doing tricks
I think me merits another start and hope VV takes a rest for another week
Defense has been having trouble making routine plays, let alone making an above average play to pick up their pitcher. Was a play on Sunday that I have no idea how they didn’t charge Mathias with an error, and gave Ro an earned run.
While Swags if on leave now, when can they call him up on return? Need that defense and bat in line-up.
He left the lineup due to illness back in April, and hasn’t returned. So idk what’s going on.
There was an article in Post gazette (?) about his child having health problems again.
Colorado on the road strikes out more than any other NL team. Ortiz was dealt a bad hand tonight, but I’m a little surprised (concerned?) he only had 1 K throwing upper 90’s with noticeable movement. On the other hand, 1 walk is impressive.
Absolutely agree; deserved better, but his pure stuff has also fallen this year. G*dd*mn*it.
Yeah, his stuff is down a few ticks. Couldn’t command the slider at all. I think he was lucky to have the line he did…Runners on the bases all night for him.
Mitch aside, brutal start to the year on the pitcher dev side. Mike hurt, Quinn/Roansy/Luis all taking steps back.
But my god is mitch fun to watch right now.
Seems like his approach lately has been to pitch more to contact for efficiency? But in the big inning, would like to think he can dig deep and get a big K or two to avoid the big number on the board