Week 3 is over for the Pirates and the team is sitting at 12-7 on the season. The Bucs are holding on to first place in the division, but the lead is shrinking as the bats come back down to earth.
Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. The good, the bad, and the ugly for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s the theme of this series and it’s about time to break down week 3!
The good and the bad sections will be self-explanatory, looking at both the good and the bad of the week. The ugly will simply be a section that covers all of the other random notes of importance from the week.
I’m going to start off the good by handing out some unexpected, but so far deserved, praise for Neal Huntington. The Corey Dickerson and Colin Moran moves have worked out well so far. Both continued to hit well through a relatively poor hitting week for the Pirates. Dickerson in particular went 6 for 23, including a game-winning bunt against the Miami Marlins on Saturday.
However, the win of the week for Neal is his bullpen roster moves. It is very difficult to add to a Big League roster this early in the season as a GM. Free agency has ended, prospects still need time to develop, and teams are not looking to make trades. Neil Huntington could have sat back and just let things play out, but instead he went out and acquired Enny Romero from the Washington Nationals. Romero made his Pirates debut against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday, striking out three batters over two innings. He also had an at-bat where he gave a spark to a sleeping Pirates team:
Now that’s some fun – Romero was pumped, and so was the rest of the team. Before you ask, I have no idea what the Pirates are doing when they wave their arms all crazy like every time someone gets a good hit. It looks like they are washing windows or a car. If you do know what’s going on, please share in the comments below, because I would love to know. Anyway, let’s continue.
Because of the Enny Romero acquisition and the calling up of Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez, the Pirates have a new-look bullpen. The bullpen certainly lived up to the new look by pitching 22 and 2/3 innings over the past week while only giving up 6 runs. Two of those runs were given up by Dovydas Neverauskas, who is no longer on the Pirates roster.
The team MVP for the week is shared by Starling Marte and Trevor Williams. Marte went 9 for 24 this week, including a five hit game against the Marlins where he also scored four runs. With many other batters slowing down, the Pirates really appreciated Marte’s strong week.
Trevor Williams pitched another strong game – this against the Rockies. He has three wins on the young season and should have four. His 1.93 ERA stands as one of the best in the league. Williams is stepping up in a big way for the Pirates who entered this season with the starting rotation considered its weakest link.
A 3-4 week is nothing to write home about. It’s obviously not terrible as the Pirates still are on top of the NL Central, but the club should have won at least two games against the Rockies at home. This week included a few ugly losses as well, which is never good for morale.
Man do I feel bad for Josh Harrison. This is the second year in a row that Harrison has broken a bone in his hand, and this one will cost him six weeks according to most of the reports out there. This is a bad break for Harrison and an even worse break for the Pirates.
I truly believe that J-Hay is the heart and soul of this club. In addition, he is clearly a leader and a role model for many young players on the team. Thankfully, the Pirates do have some other second base options in Adam Frazier, Max Moroff, and Sean Rodriguez. Even though none of these players will contribute individually as much as J-Hay, they should provide a decent platoon option until Josh returns.
Wow how the mighty have fallen. Just last week I was raving about how comfortable Gregory Polanco looked at the plate. This week Polanco went a whopping 1 for 23 at the plate, bringing his season batting average to .185. Polanco needs to warm up again fast or else Clint Hurdle is going to have to move him out of the 2-hole for the time being.
Closing out the bad section once again is the true loser of the week, the weather. I don’t want to watch baseball when it’s 30 degrees outside. I don’t want to see Marte in a turtle-neck spandex outfit. And I certainly don’t want to try to find a baseball being thrown 90 mph in a scene that looks like it is out of White Christmas.
Hitting an opposing batter intentionally with a pitch is one of the more controversial topics in baseball. My opinion is that hitting an opposing player in response to your own teammate being hit can be done poorly, or it can be done well. Ivan Nova hitting J.B. Shuck falls into the later. He had complete control of the pitch and kept it low with zero intent to injure. Either way, this is not my main point.
The important note to take away here is the manner in which it was done and what it tells us about the 2018 Pirates. The Pirates team leader, Josh Harrison, was just hit by a pitch and is most likely out for a long period of time. Nova responds with the very first pitch next inning (hitting Shuck) and tells the entire MLB that the Pirates are here to compete this season.
Not only does it show that the Pirates are taking this season seriously, it shows that the clubhouse has some serious unity very early in the season. Last year, I can’t remember a single time a pitcher stood up for Andrew McCutchen getting hit. This year, the team didn’t even think twice. It’s early, but a team that jives well together, normally wins a good many games.
Jeremy Rehak grew up in Murrysville, PA, and as of this week, is a Major League umpire.
This was a really cool story for the city of Pittsburgh and the Pirates. It was neat to hear from Jeremy’s parents about the journey their son went on to become a Big League umpire. Just like a minor league player, it sounds like umpires move up through Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. This has to be a crazy competitive profession; think about it – only four umpires are need for every game that features two entire teams of players.
Well, that’s all for this week! Hope you guys enjoyed! If you like or don’t like this format, feel free to comment below and keep your eyes open for next weeks edition. Let’s go Bucs!
The Pittsburgh Pirates week ahead:
April 20th – Pirates @ the Phillies 7:05
April 21th – Pirates @ the Philles 4:05
April 22th – Pirates @ the Phillies 1:35
April 24th – Tigers @ the Pirates 7:05
April 25th – Tigers @ the Pirates 7:05
April 26th – Tigers @ the Pirates 12:35