...yeah, the Pirates are weird this year.
You know, most years where the Pirates do a bit to compete from below .500, they get everything that made them compete picked off at the deadline, but here? I'm not so sure. For one thing, there's no way they're getting rid of Ke'Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz or Mitch Keller, Bryan Reynolds is injured and therefore kinda protected, and even if Bednar, Quintana and Kevin Newman get dealt, or more, I don't think it's going to stunt the 2022 growth of this team, especially considering what they're building for the next few years.
And it's weird, because Mitch Keller continues to be a strong strikeout artist in search of more run support. He's been disappointing the last few years because he's been the victim of disappointing teams without really doing too badly himself. This season, his best to date, he's got a 4.55 ERA, 84 Ks and a higher WAR than J.T. Brubaker, who's honestly having the better season. I want people to pay attention to Keller's numbers during the last two months of the season, because that's when the deadline vipers will be put away and he'll be able to pitch without much pressure. I reckon he'll finish pretty strongly and make a strong case for 2023. And then...maybe be a valid trade deadline pick in 2024 if they haven't figured it out by then.
Like, that's the thing about this Pirates team. You are seeing the pieces of the future regime get put into place. Cal Mitchell is starting in the outfield. Bligh Madris and Roansy Contreras are in and out of major league spots. Oneil Cruz is starting at shortstop. And they're all kind of...not doing too much, figuring it out, farming for the next stage. I do envision a team where all of these players are doing well, and I sincerely hope it is soon, but as of now, where the emphasis is just filling roster spots and not earning them, we're just sort of...watching them slowly come into their own. Cruz is pretty much there but he's not hitting for average. Contreras has gotten the hang of starting but now there's no room for him [Quintana will be gone soon, he'll be back up].
And then there's the question of 'does Reynolds get dealt at the end of the season?', and honestly...he probably does. I think we're at the point where we're building the team around Hayes and not Reynolds, and I think freeing up the outfield and letting Mitchell and Suwinski come into their own is the better plan. Maybe they keep him and he sticks with it, but I'm not certain that they will.
With all the Pirates are setting up for the next few years, there's not a ton for them to accomplish this year, but like the last few years, maybe someone big will get brought up in the last month or so.
Coming Tomorrow- A strong, consistent pitcher who's happy to be out of the pitching hell that is Denver.