Pittsburgh Pirates: Grading the Series Loss at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 02: Right, Chad Kuhl #39 of the Pittsburgh Pirates speaks with teammates on the mound during the fifth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 02, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 02: Right, Chad Kuhl #39 of the Pittsburgh Pirates speaks with teammates on the mound during the fifth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 02, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 02: Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a pitch during the first inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 02, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 02: Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a pitch during the first inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 02, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Starting Rotation

Trevor Williams kicked the series off for the Pittsburgh Pirates when he toed the rubber on Friday night. For the second time in as many starts this season Williams failed to go 5 innings. Williams allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, on four hits, three walks, a home run, and six strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work. The unearned run he allowed was due to an error he committed.

Williams needs to better moving forward. He has struggled with control in his first two starts and failed to go deep enough into games. His swing-and-miss rate is up from 2019, though, which is a promising sign.

Saturday night Mitch Keller took the mound and exited in the 4th inning due to injury. Prior to getting hurt, he was struggling with control, had allowed a pair of solo home runs and was failing to generate swings-and-misses. None of which is good to see.

Sunday afternoon the second take at piggybacking was going even better than the first one did. Steven Brault pitched 3 perfect innings to start the game, and Chad Kuhl followed with a perfect 4th inning. Then in the 5th inning Kuhl allowed a run, even though it was not completely on him as Willson Contreras should have been out twice before scoring but Pirate defensive blunders kept him on the base paths, before exiting with a finger issue.

With Keller and Kuhl banged up, it will be interesting to see what happens with the Pirate starting rotation moving forward.

The Verdict

It is difficult to completely grade out the starting rotation due to Keller exited his start early with his injury. That said, Williams needs to pitch better and Keller was failing to generate swings-and-misses before exiting his start. Brault and Kuhl pitched well Sunday, but it was not enough to make the rotation’s performance over the weekend anything more than average.

Grade: C

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