Going into this season there was a lot made that this could be the worst Pirates team in a long time. Some people were actually calling for this team to lose over 110 games. I didn't really see it. If you recall I thought this team could reel in about 70-75 wins. While that many wins isn't all that great, or even .500 for that matter, it would be a great step in the right direction considering how bad this team was thought to be.
At the 39 game point the Pirates are 17-22, only five games under .500. The Pirates are on pace for almost 71 wins so I am looking good so far. One can almost look at the Philadelphia series that the Pirates just finished with and say that it has been a microcosm of the season so far. The Pirates just get rocked by an average at best pitcher and give up a ton of runs and the very next day they go up against arguably the best pitcher in the league and grab a 2-1 win.
Most are going to point to the fact that the Pirates run differential is an astounding -102. They have been outscored by over 100 runs already this season. But delve a little closer into why and you can see that this tells you nothing about this season. You take away three games from this season (20-0, 15-6, 17-3 losses) and the Pirates are only a -59. That puts them right up against some other teams, and not the worst in baseball. Number can be misleading (as shocking as that may be).
Like I said, the Pirats are getting beat big and getting by with the close wins. That is how it is going to have to be for this team. They are not going to score a lot of runs, mostly three or four runs a game, so the pitching is going to have to be money. For the most part, it has. When leading after six innings the Pirates pen has yet to fail them. A lot better than we expected, and that is without Brandon Donnley. He is scheduled to come back very shortly and that leaves a very unexpected probelm. Who's place is he going to take? Meek and Hanrahan have been lights out, Dotel has been good and the rest of the pen has held up their end of the bargan. Not a terrible problem to have.
The deal is that if the Bucco pitchers show up and throw stirkes this team has a chance to win on a nightly basis, for the most part. Zack Duke was the epitimy of this last night against Philadelphia when he mowed down a Philadelphia lineup that might be World Series bound. Duke was zoned in and worked quick. You can tell he felt it and and he got the job done. He was yanked after six innings and Meek, Hanrahan and Dotel did the rest as we discussed before. That is the way the Pirates are going to win games.
The way Pirates lose games? Like they did against Chicago on Sunday with errors and misplayed balls. The Pirates have to play clean baseball in order to win and get a good pitching performance. If they don't get that then it could be ugly.
I hear people moaning already for Alverez, Tabata and co. to come up and save the day. Huge mistake. Make no mistake, this team isn't contending for anything this year. Give those guys some time to develop and keep them under contract for another year. The worst thing we can do for those kids is bring them up too soon, have them struggle and further their development process. There is no rush to get them up here. I know people want to see them, but I would rather keep them in Indy for another two months than just to apease people by bringing them up. People are frustrated. 17 years frustrated, but this is not a .500 team.
Holding those guys in AAA also gives the Pirates extra arbitration years with those playeres, which is key. People are going to think that is the Pirates being cheap by saving money but like I said before if keeping them in AAA for another two months meaning having them for a whole extra year (at minimum) then I am ok with that. Idiotic people will make up their own reasons but it is more development than money. It is.
Well the Pirates are what they are. They will give you times to excite you and they will give you times where you wonder how this team could ever win again. The fact is that this isn't the worst Pirate team in the last ten years, and right now it is better than last years team. They are a scrappy team that will fight for a win and take the extra base when they get that chance. Things would be different if they were just rolling over, but there is some fight. There is some light that I am seeing but it is still early. Time will tell.
Lets Go Bucs.