Pittsburgh Pirates Mailbag: July 23rd, 2018

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

It’s mailbag time, y’all!

Will the Pittsburgh Pirates be buyers or sellers at month’s end? If they’re buyers, what position(s) may they look to upgrade? Does Sean Rodriguez remember public interactions with fans? We tackle these questions and more in this week’s Pirate mailbag!

As always, thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s mailbag by submitting questions. Now, let’s dive in!

The Pirates have gone 11-1 in their last 12 games to get to 51-49 on the season, and are now just 4 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the second National League Wild Card spot. While the Bucs start a three-game series against the American League Central leading Cleveland Indians tonight, they then return home for a four-game series against the New York Mets who very well may be the worst team in baseball.

Assuming the Pirates do not throw up all over themselves against the Mets, they are shaping up to be buyers at the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. If the team can go at least 4-3 this week, penciling them in to go 1-2 in Cleveland and then 3-1 against the Mets, then they should not be more than 4 games out of a Wild Card spot at month’s end. This would put them in the thick of the race and set them up to be buyers.

What positions could they target between now and next Tuesday? Pitching, pitching, pitching.

As the saying goes you can never have too much pitching in baseball. While the backend of the Pirate bullpen has been excellent, the ‘pen could use a left-handed upgrade over Steven Brault. Middle relief could use an arm as well.

The team’s starting rotation remains shaky as well. Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove, and Nick Kingham is a nice trio to anchor the rotation. However, the rotation is shaky at best behind these three and none of these pitchers have pitched an entire season before. So, hitting a wall is definitely possible.

Offensively the team is in good shape. The middle infield could use a boost, but that could easily come internally form Kevin Newman or Kevin Kramer being promoted from Triple-A, Jung Ho Kang getting healthy, and/or Josh Harrison starting to hit again.

During the next eight days, Neal Huntington needs to be working the phones looking for pitching help.

This is a tough call. On one hand, professional athletes probably have things like this happen so often that they don’t even notice it half the time. On the other hand, it’s possible they remember each time a random person yells their name at a movie theater.

We’ll go with yes, though. Why not!

Shoutout to our FanSided sister site Cubbies Corner for getting involved this week.

On July 12th the Pirates were 12.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. 11 days later the Bucs are now just 4.5 behind the Brew Crew.

The Pirates are currently the hottest team in baseball while the Brewers are in a free fall having gone 2-9 in their last 11 games. Comparing their upcoming schedules, and factoring in the fact the Pirates have to cool down at least somewhat and the Brewers won’t continue to be this bad, I’ll say the Pirates will pass the Brewers for second place in the National League Central on August 12th.

The only way this happens is if the Pirates due not view themselves as contenders. There is an argument that can be made that the team would be better with Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer on the roster, however, none of their veterans are going anywhere if the team view themselves as contenders.

Now, if the team has a bad week and is out of contention everything changes. If that happens, look for David Freese, Jordy Mercer, and/or Josh Harrison to be moved making room for the young guys.

If the Yankees are open to moving Sonny Gray then the Pirates should absolutely explore a trade for the righty starter. In fact, there will be an article up on the site tomorrow outlining why the Pirates should pursue Gray. So, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get further detail and analysis on why the Pirates should pursue Gray.

Next: Nick Kingham Has A 1st Inning Problem

That will do it for this week. As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions for this week’s mailbag. If you ever have a question look for out Tweet asking for mailbag questions each week.