Pittsburgh Pirates home stand review for 8/1-8/8

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 07: Andrew McCutchen
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 07: Andrew McCutchen /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 07: Trevor Williams /

Starting Pitching 

The horrid start to the week left fans wondering what in the world happened to Jameson Taillon?

After an excellent first half, the promising second-year man hit a little wall, allowing 17 runs in two outings. Jamo returned to the bump for Sunday’s series finale with San Diego, and after the Padres had put up a two-spot in the first inning, it looked like this disturbing trend would continue. Taillon settled down, however, and finished the afternoon having allowed just those two early runs in 6.1 innings. Considering his snakebit past, Taillon’s health is always a concern. Hopefully, Sunday’s performance is the JT we’ll see, by and large, for the rest of this season.

Trevor Williams’ surprisingly solid 2017 continued last Wednesday night. Although he faltered in the sixth, Williams still turned in 5.1 innings of quality work, allowing two earned runs (one of them was an inherited runner) and keeping the Bucs in the game. As mentioned above,
Williams pitched the best game of his young career Monday night. The emergence of Williams as a reliable starting pitcher looks to be one of the positives to take into 2018.

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Just as Williams did the night before, Chad Kuhl gave fans hope for the future with a dominant outing last Thursday night. Kuhl pitched seven shutout innings, continuing his solid run of form. Kuhl retook the bump the next Tuesday. Although he faltered in the sixth, Kuhl shut the Tigers down for five frames, continuing his dominant run of form.

Both Williams and Kuhl are proving themselves to be more than just serviceable as back-end starters, and they are making their case for being part of the Pirates plans for 2018 and beyond.

Ivan Nova’s struggles continued Friday night. Although Nova’s stat line of one earned run through six innings might make it appear as if he had a good evening, those who watched probably saw things a little differently.

It is true that an error by David Freese contributed to three San Diego runs in the fourth, but so did Nova allowing a dinger to the light hitting Carlos Asuaje, which brought home two of those tallies. Aside from the four total runs Nova gave up, the Padres made plenty of hard contact against him, and that has been a disturbing trend for quite some time now.

Gerrit Cole didn’t have his best stuff Saturday night but still turned in a respectable six innings of work, allowing three runs. Cole has been the Pirates best pitcher in the second half, and they will need him to be for the rest of 2017, 2018 and hopefully many years going forward.

So to recap, the Pittsburgh Pirates got excellent showings from Williams and Kuhl, a mix of beautiful and terrible from Taillon, as well as performances from Cole and Nova that left a lot to be desired. Of the eight starting pitching performances that we saw this homestand, five were excellent, one was awful, and two were mixed. While it wasn’t perfect by any stretch, the emergence of the Pirates young back-end starters is enough for me to give the pitchers an excellent grade for this report card.

Grade: A-