Pittsburgh Pirates Week in Review 6/29 – 7/5


The Pittsburgh Pirates went 2-4 this week. The Bucs dropped all three games to the Dodgers after winning a series against the Padres. With a record of 40-46, the Pirates are now threatening to fall into last place in the NL Central.

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. The good, the bad, and the ugly for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s the theme of this series – shout out to the Italian man himself,  Francisco Cervelli, for the inspiration. Let’s jump into the week that was!

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.

The Bad

If you were holding on to any hope that this year’s Pirates team would rebound to its former April glory, that hope has now been officially discarded. The Pirates were swept by the Dodgers in embarrassing fashion – being outscored 31-8 while playing sloppy baseball. Yet again, Hurdle’s club showed that it is not competitive against good teams.

It’s hard to be a Pirates’ fan right now. The three years of winning and playoff berths brought exuberant life to PNC Park, but those days now seem far away. Rightfully so, I am worried about just how long we will have to wait to see a successful baseball team occupy PNC again. The future looks bright, kind of. But the team lacks a clear core and a future all-star caliber player that most rebuilding clubs circle their wagons around.

On top of the lack of high-end talent, it seems as if Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington have lost their Midas touch.

To quote fellow writer Marty Leap,

"Giving Hurdle a four-year extension after last season is starting to look like a major mistake as the Bucs appear to be well on their way to a third consecutive losing season. It’s not even just the record as the team is currently playing bad, fundamentally poor, and often times uninspired baseball. Those issues fall at the feet of Hurdle and his coaching staff."

It’s hard to argue with Marty. The team looks uninspired and lost right now. That falls on Hurdle. Top prospects are failing to develop and are having trouble making it through the minors. That falls on Hurdle, the staff, and Neal Huntington.

Do the Pirates need to tear it down from the very top? I am honestly not sure. But the large number of top 100 prospects and the stocked farm system the Pirates have had in the Huntington era is starting to be defined by seasons of mediocrity and under-performance.

In the meantime, Huntington has some big questions he will need to answer before the end of the month. Last week I covered some players that I thought the Pirates would trade before the trade deadline this season. I will stand by that list but do have one important point to make – anyone on the current Pirates’ roster can be traded depending on the return. At the moment the Pirates’ do not have a clear multi-year all-star that is untouchable like Andrew McCutchen. There are some players, however, that I would suggest not trading.

The Good

The Pirates may not have any all-stars on their current roster, but they are most certainly not without some good, young talent.

Colin Moran hit his second grand slam of the 2018 season and is definitely a budding talent. I am really excited to see how his season looks as a whole at the end of the year. Right now, Moran looks like he could be the Pirates’ everyday third baseman of the future as well as a positive WAR player.

Even though he had a bad outing on Wednesday, Tyler Glasnow did pitch three scoreless frames this week across two high-leverage situations. Out of the four bullpen arms, the Pirates should keep past the 2018 season (Glasnow, Felipe Vasquez, Kyle Crick, and Edgar Santana), Glasnow is perhaps the most promising. We know he has the stuff, but the development is what is impressing me the most. Unlike Vasquez and most of the Pirates’ starters, Glasnow has not regressed this season, by neither the metrics nor the eye-test.

Joe Musgrove was placed on the DL this week with a right finger infection, but only after he had a fantastic start against the Padres. Musgrove went seven scoreless while striking out five batters. He also recorded another hit, bringing his batting average up to .273 on the year.

Musgrove is from San Deigo, so he had a large amount of family and friends come out to support him.

Overall, I think Musgrove has the potential to be an above-average middle of the rotation arm for the Pirates. Again, not someone you build your team of the future around, but someone who can play a contributing role.

Elias Diaz had a monster week during Cervelli’s absence. Over six games Diaz went 7 for 21 with two home runs and multiple clutch at-bats.

If I am Neal Huntington, Diaz’s performance this season has made Cervelli a must-sell before the trade deadline. Not because Diaz is better than Cervelli, but because Diaz is young, has multiple controllable years, and could be better than Cervelli.

The Ugly

Jung Ho Kang is still having injury concerns in AAA-Indy. The most recent report has Kang returning to game action in 10 days. At this point, there is not a rush. The main goal will be to determine before the end of the season if Kang is an everyday Big League player, a utility player, or a player that needs to be DFA’d. I believe Kang will have the first shot at a starting shortstop role next year for the Pirates, but he will have to earn it.

Trevor William’s dad is always one of the more entertaining dads to follow during the season. He has an awesome story and is a cancer survivor. On Saturday, William’s dad sat in his season ticket seats right behind home plate at Petco Park. And of course, Treveor was the starting pitcher that day. Richard Williams did confirm that Trevor said it would be okay if he sat right behind home plate, but it was still really interesting and unique to watch Trevor throw every pitch directly towards his dad.

That’s all for this week. Let’s go Bucs!

The Pittsburgh Pirates week ahead:

July 6th – Phillies @ the Pirates 7:05

7th – Phillies @ the Pirates 4:05

8th – Phillies @ the Pirates 1:35

July 9th – Nationals @ the Pirates 7:05

10th – Nationals @ the Pirates 7:05

11th – Nationals @ the Pirates 12:35

12th – Brewers @ the Pirates 7:05