Pittsburgh Pirates road trip report card for 8/9 – 8/16

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MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 15: Josh Bell
MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 15: Josh Bell /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 15: Ivan Nova /

Pitching 

After a hot start to the season, Ivan Nova has cooled down. That was evident last Wednesday. Despite allowing a lot of smashed baseballs Nova should have ended the evening with a decent stat line of three earned runs over six innings. For whatever reason, Clint Hurdle decided to let him pitch the seventh, and that resulted in three more Tiger tallies.

Nova took the ball again Tuesday night in Milwaukee. As mentioned above, he was excellent. Nova pitched six innings, allowing just two unearned runs, and falling victim to poor defense from Josh Bell and little offensive support in the 3-1 loss.

I’m not sold on Nova at all. But Tuesday was a step in the right direction. Hopefully, he ends the season with a decent enough stat line so the Pirates can get a decent return for him in a trade.

If there is a player who defines what 2017 has been like for the Pirates, it’s Gerrit Cole. As with the team overall, Cole has been up-and-down all year long.  This week was a perfect example of that.

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Last Thursday was one of Cole’s good days. He threw his seventh consecutive quality start allowing three runs over eight innings, and leading the Pirates to victory.

The following Wednesday was one of Cole’s bad days. Despite being spotted a 4-0 lead, he allowed four earned runs. To make matters worse, Cole’s year long home run troubles are continuing, as all four of the runs he allowed came by way of the long ball.

To be blunt, if Cole pitched better, the Bucs would have won the game and left Wisconsin with a series split. But it was not to be. It’s getting harder to trust Cole to be the consistently dominant pitcher that we’ve been hoping for.

After a rough stretch, Jameson Taillon was stellar for the second straight outing Friday night. Jamo pitched six innings, allowing just two runs, leaving with a 4-2 lead that the bullpen preserved.

Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl have both been solid recently. Sadly, they each took a step back last weekend. Williams struggled Saturday, walking four men and allowing four runs. Kuhl hit a speed bump Sunday, allowing five first inning tallies. I wouldn’t make much of one rough outing each for these guys. Both Kuhl and Williams have been bright spots in what has been a frustrating season, and they are earning the benefit of the doubt.

So to recap, the Pirates got three excellent outings, one subpar performance, and three clunkers. The rotation has been a positive for the most part. But this is a young staff, and this week showed that these pitchers still has plenty of room to grow. The starters were inconsistent, which is fitting for this season.

Grade: C-

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