There are baseball teams making poor decisions when competing for a postseason spot, and then there is what the Pittsburgh Pirates did on Friday night
Frustrating. At times being a sports fan is nothing short of frustrating, and Friday night was a frustrating one for fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Entering play on Friday night the Pirates owned a 60-56 record and found themselves 4.0 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the second National League Wild Card spot. Trevor Williams, who has allowed just two earned runs in his last three starts, was originally scheduled to start for the Pirates in San Francisco on Friday night. However, the Bucs decided to go in a different direction.
In a decision the Pirates said was made in order to get their starting pitchers extra rest, the team pushed everyone back a day and promoted Clay Holmes from Triple-A to start on Friday night. This was a decision that made little sense for multiple reasons and it was a predictable disaster. As expected, Holmes’ start went disastrously.
Holmes is a pitcher that has always struggled with control. That has continued this season as he owns a 10% walk rate at Triple-A, and he entered Friday with a 15.1% walk rate in 12 1/3 MLB innings this season.
The control issues of Holmes were on display early and often on Friday night. From the get go Holmes was missing his spot and the pitches he was throwing for strikes were getting drilled.
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By the time Holmes’ night mercifully came to an end the team was trailing 6-1. After Casey Sadler allowed an inherited runner to score Holmes was tagged for seven runs on eight hits, four walks, and a home run in 2 2/3 innings of work.
The disastrous start from Holmes was the catalyst in the Pirates losing to the Giants in the second game of their four-game series against the Giants. While the Pirates are going to suffer their fair share of losses during the final seven weeks of the season, they can not afford to give games away the way they did on Friday night if they wish to make the postseason.
Like I said above, there were multiple reasons that starting Holmes made little sense. First and foremost, someone like Holmes has no business starting games for a team in postseason contention unless there are injuries. Holmes struggles to throw strikes against MiLB hitters let alone MLB, and this was on full display Friday night.
Secondly, the Pirate rotation has been as steady as any in the National League of late. Entering play on Friday Pirate starting pitchers owned a NL best 3.15 ERA the past 30 days. As the old saying goes, don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Adding to the frustration was the Pirate offense. The Bucco bats never gave up and were able to pound out 10 runs on Friday night, and I feel very confident saying that had Williams started 10 runs would have been more than enough to earn a victory.
Some disasters are predictable ones and therefore can be prevented. The Pittsburgh Pirates starting Clay Holmes on Friday night was one such disaster. Unfortunately, the Bucs did not take the steps to prevent it and it led to the team getting shelled by the Giants.