How Good Are the Pirates?


Currently sitting tied for second place in the NL Central with a 12-11 record are the Pittsburgh Pirates, the next obstacle for the Dodgers on a very quick three-game homestand.

The Pirates are amid a five-game losing streak, having just been swept by the Diamondbacks in a four-game series in Pittsburgh. During that series, Arizona convincingly outscored Pittsburgh 28-9.

As a team, the Pittsburgh offensive production has been abysmal. The Pirates’ 75 runs scored is second-worst in the National League, topping only the 68 of the Marlins. Collectively, the team is hitting just .228/.299/.363.

It’s certainly worth mentioning that Pittsburgh has a whopping seven players on the 10-day injured list with another three on the 60-day DL. Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall—a complete, starting outfield in itself—are all on the injured list, so it’s definitely easy to see why the team has been struggling with the bats.

Josh Bell is leading the team in just about every single offensive category. So far, the 26-year-old first baseman has tallied a .284 average alongside five long balls, 17 RBI and a .368 OBP.

If there’s any good news for the Pirates, it’s the return of right fielder Gregory Polanco, who is being eased back into a full-time role after having undergone shoulder surgery. Although he hasn’t been starting, Polanco has gone 4-for-12 so far in limited duties off the bench.

Pitching-wise, Pittsburgh has been decent, registering a 3.36 team ERA, five spots better than the Dodgers and good enough for third-best in the National League.

The starting pitching crew has amassed a 2.69 ERA for the Pirates, far and away the best mark in the National League. Coincidentally, the Dodgers’ starters have compiled a 3.82 ERA, which is good enough for sixth on the senior circuit.

With 37 runs allowed and a 4.60 ERA, the Pittsburgh bullpen is ranked 10th in the NL.

The full weekend schedule is as follows:

Friday, 7:10 p.m. — Chris Archer (1-1, 2.74 ERA) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1, 3.10)

Saturday, 6:10 p.m. — Joe Musgrove (1-1, 1.59) vs. Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 2.77)

Sunday, 1:10 p.m. — Trevor Williams (1-1, 2.59) vs. Rich Hill (0-0, 0.00)

The good news for the Dodgers is that the entire trio of Pittsburgh starters is right-handed, so Los Angeles fans can expect a heavy dose of Alex Verdugo, Joc Pederson and Max Muncy to accompany an already formidable left-handed hitting duo in Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager.

Bellinger is leading the world with a .426 batting average and is tied with Christian Yelich for the league-lead with 31 RBI. Bellinger’s 12 long balls are second only to Yelich’s 13.

Offensively, the Dodgers have a huge advantage and should cruise in this series so long as they can stick to their game plan at the plate. If anything will keep the Pirates hanging around, it’s their starting pitching. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles offense has been the most prolific offense in the NL, at least when it comes to run production.

At the moment, despite their 12 wins, the Pirates are probably among the worst clubs in the National League—especially after being swept four games by the Diamondbacks in Pittsburgh—but that can certainly change at some point in the season if they ever become close to being fully healthy.


20 thoughts on “How Good Are the Pirates?

  1. Dennis, I think you’ve mixed Eastern and Pacific times for the start times of the games.
    I think it should read 7:10, 6:10, 1:10 (Pacific).

      1. That’s what happens when you live in the Eastern time zone and root for a West Coast team. Why don’t you just move out here and join the rest of us?

    1. Verdugo should be in there, Muncy to Cody on first, Kike to the bench.. Verdugo in RF….this line up has to be Ol Andy’s, because any manager worth his salt would have the kid in there.

  2. Does anyone know if Verdugo is not liked by management or teammates??? This is very strange why he is left out of the lineup

    1. It’s a good thing I’m around to explain things to you guys. As you recall, Alex hit a triple yesterday. That involves a lot of running and he hasn’t quite caught his breath yet. Can’t start a guy who is out of breath, but maybe he’ll be ready to go tomorrow. In the meanwhile, he might be OK by the 9th inning and will be able to get a walk-off hit to win the game. Of course, if that hit is a triple………………………………………

      1. Easy explanation. Pederson has a career average of .400 against Archer. Verdugo’s average against him is .000. I made that first part up.

  3. Verdugo will get his at bats. He’s a rook. It’s Pederson’s job. Maybe they should play Verdugo against lefties. He’s better than Taylor. But…. Taylor apparently has a long leash. As does Pollock and Muncy. We have a lot of players to rotate in and out. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. And it’s still very early.

    We beat Archer. That’s something. Musgrove next.

    It’s amost May and Kershaw without a win. Greinke with 4.

    1. It’s fun to play around with stats at this time of year. Greinke has as many wins as Kershaw, Urias, Buehler and Stripling combined. His OPS is 300 points higher than Bellinger’s and where Belli is homering once every 8.9 plate appearances, Greinke is doing it at the rate of one per 8.0 plate appearances. I think we need to trade for him and give him a 10 year extension. He obviously improves with age.

      1. He’s a special talent. Has been since he arrived. We gambled on Kershaw. Will Greinke keep putting up 4 WAR to the end of his contract? Maybe. Will Kershaw? Nope.

      2. For a million different reasons there is no way the FO was going to choose Greinke over CK, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be worth more between now and the end of each of their careers. Overall, CK will have had the better career and will go into the HOF, so there really wasn’t any choice. Watching both those guys pitch in tandem during the 2015 season was like observing an art masterpiece. You just kind of stood/sat there staring in admiration.

      3. I don’t think it was either or Jefe, though it may have sounded like I said that. We could have afforded both. The Dodgers offered Greinke a contract, but they drew a line at paying a long term contract to a 32 year old. They reportedly offered him 5 and $155 million. Using ZiPS projection system it was estimated by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski Greinke’s value at 7 years $187 million. He got 6 and $206 million from Arizona.

        Zack is in some exclusive company at his age. When looking at cumulative WAR production by pitchers from age 29-31 over the last 20 years, the names at the top of the list are Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Zack Greinke, Curt Schilling and Cliff Lee. Kershaw won’t be among those names. From 32 to 37 the average WAR for the pitchers on that list was 3. That is why the Dodgers offered Zack what they did. So far he is averaging 4 WAR. Can he do it for 3 more years? Maybe. He’s a remarkable talent.

        The Dodgers gambled by giving Kershaw 3 and $93mm. He had opted out. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have done it. Maybe he can continue to pitch to age 33. But when Greinke was Kershaw’s age he threw 222 innings and put up 9.1 WAR. I won’t ask if anyone here if they would trade Kershaw for Greinke straight up. I’ll just say I wish Zack was still a Dodger.

      4. CK looked very good last night. Maybe he really has reinvented himself………………………or maybe the hitters just haven’t caught up with the New CK yet, but it was nice to see. That said, he could be on the DL tomorrow but I don’t think the FO felt they had any choice but to give him those three more years. He’s become a Dodger icon.
        With regard to Mr. Greinke, I absolutely love watching him play the game. He pitches well, he hits well, he fields his position well and he’s a true baseball strategist. He simply makes the game more fun when he’s out there.

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