Sunday, April 7, 2024

Pirates Update: Let's Try This Again Edition


Stop me if you've heard this one before. The Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the best teams in baseball this April. They're led by some great homegrown stars, a few pitchers having great seasons where no one would expect it, a power hitter not acting his 30+ age whatsoever, and a rookie that everyone's paying attention to. 

...sounds a hell of a lot like last April, doesn't it?

I don't know what it is about these Derek Shelton Pirates teams that seem to have such a mirage spike in April every year, but this is where we're at. There is a chance that this team is the one that puts something together, and considering the amount of people that are succeeding now that weren't even here last April, it's a decent chance, but...this Pirates team isn't at a point like the Orioles or Reds where you can trust them when they take off yet.

That being said, I've liked what I've seen from this team lately. The walkoff ability from this team is very nice. It can be as dramatic as Oneil Cruz blasting something or just Edward Olivares sneaking something past the reigning Rookie of the Year. These games can be close, especially with great teams like the Orioles, and the Pirates have the momentum to keep getting past them. They also have the bullpen strength to stay in place while outrunning someone like Yennier Cano, who was unbeatable last year. Somebody like Jose Hernandez or Hunter Stratton can just keep the other guys at bay while the contact guys run out with the win.

And look, it's great that the expected guys, like Bryan Reynolds, Oneil Cruz, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Henry Davis can be the heroes. Reynolds has 9 RBIs already, Hayes and Cruz are batting .300, it's going great. But the guys that everybody counted out aren't doing too badly either. Michael Taylor, Connor Joe and Rowdy Tellez, guys the Pirates picked up for nothing, are having the best starts at the plate of anybody. Taylor just keeps slapping hits away from people, and his defense is still respectable. Joe has 10 hits and 7 RBIs and is still an integral piece years after I thought he'd fade back off. The best defensive piece on the team has been Jared Triolo, a take-or-leave guy from last year. And somehow, this of all environments is the one to get production out of Joey Bart. I can't believe it.

It's also been wild that pitchers I'd counted out due to subpar 2023 material, like Martin Perez, Bailey Falter and Marco Gonzales, have done so well in Pittsburgh. Perez is looking like his early-decade self, with a low ERA and 8 Ks through his first 2 starts. Bringing in Jared Jones and his unhittable material is also a good sign. It'll be a little while til Paul Skenes is ready, but this is a working group right here, and it'll only strengthen as Mitch Keller finds his stuff.

It's been fantastic seeing this team not only get off to a good start, but have the wherewithal to take down great teams in close games. I sincerely hope they keep this energy going, as it'd be a nice surprise if the Pirates were competitive this year.

Coming Tomorrow- I was not expecting to have this much good news about this team, but an outfielder who's one of many that are off to excellent starts for them.

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