10 games into his tenure as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a lot of Derek Shelton’s decisions have been more than head scratching.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates hired Derek Shelton as the team’s new manager this past November, it appeared to be a good hire. Shelton was widely respected in baseball circles, and had interviewed for jobs other than just the Pirate job in the offseason.
Well, 10 games into Shelton’s tenure as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, he is leaving a lot to be desired. Now, yes, Shelton has done an excellent job of overhauling the clubhouse culture and chemistry in Pittsburgh, but his in game managerial decisions have been porous.
From the get go, Shelton has struggled with bullpen decisions. Going to Richard Rodriguez with the team down just a run in the bottom of the 8th inning in the season opener in St. Louis was a mistake.
Since then, Shelton has continued to struggle with the bullpen. For whatever reason, Miguel Del Pozo, who has zero business being on a MLB roster, continues to get opportunities. He ruined the Pirates’ opportunity to rally against the Chicago Cubs last Friday, he also blew the team’s lead Monday night in Minnesota.
Let’s not forget him, for some unknown reason, going to Del Pozo with the team protecting a 1 run lead in Monday night’s loss against the Twins. Del Pozo walked all three batters he faced and threw a wild pitch on his way to blowing the lead.
In last week’s series against the Milwaukee Brewers, Shelton also took his lumps. The first game of the series saw Shelton ignore his best reliever – Nick Burdi – in the 9th inning with the team leading and the bullpen imploding. Burdi never pitched in extra innings either, on the way to the Pirate loss. Shelton also left Nik Turley in too long in the 7th inning of that game, and only let his second best reliever – Chris Stratton – face one batter that night. Shelton also made some horrible decisions to not pinch hit for batters who struggle against left-handed pitchers when they faced a LHP in this game.
Despite the team walking away victorious, he also grossly mismanaged the bullpen in the second game of that series. A big reason for this was his unfounded confidence in Del Pozo. Seriously, that dude has no business being on a MLB roster.
Shelton also, apparently, does not know what an intentional walk is. Had he intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo on Sunday afternoon and Nelson Cruz on Monday night, both of which appeared to be no brainer decisions, the Pittsburgh Pirates may have won both of those games.
Speaking of Sunday’s loss, the team gave away an out in the 9th inning with a sacrifice bunt. You only get 27 outs in a MLB game, never, EVER, give outs away. Sacrifice bunting is stupid. Do not do it. Hit the ball instead.
Now let’s get into Shelton not knowing how to construct a team defensively.
Cole Tucker is a plus defender at shortstop. Yet, every start he has made this season has been in the outfield. This is despite Kevin Newman, once again (-11 career Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop), struggling defensively at shortstop. Yeah, it does not make sense to me, either.
Oh, by the way, skip, when you’re leading in the 6th inning and later, you should probably look to go with your best defensive line up. This would mean having Jarrod Dyson, not Tucker, in center field in the 6th.
Yes, it is early in Shelton’s tenure as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. That said, it is clear he has a lot to learn. As of now, I want him nowhere near a team that may look to contend down the road. Because Shelton has looked totally and completely incompetent and in over his head thus far.