Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell Needs to Step Up Tonight

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Pirates need one of their best power hitters to step up tonight if the team hopes to win.  So far, he has yet to be able to do much damage to the opposing starter.

The Pittsburgh Pirates will wrap up their four games series with the Cincinatti Reds tonight.  The game will start at 6:40 PM EST as the Bucs look to salvage at least one game from this series.  It has been a pretty up and down series with Cody Ponce pitching well, but the bullpen faltering.  Then Mitch Keller and Joe Musgrove followed it up with just okay outings, giving up multiple runs; Keller giving up three runs and Musgrove giving up four.  Regardless, the team’s offense did not exactly keep them in any games either.

However, there has been a bright spot over the last few weeks from this team’s offense.  Josh Bell is starting to look like the hitter that the Pittsburgh Pirates need him to be.  Over his last 22 games, Bell has slash-line of .292/.388/.514 with a 14 percent walk rate and 21 percent strikeout rate.  This is a lot better than his start to the season that saw him post a .204 batting average with a 30 percent strikeout rate.

This is also good news because tonight the Bucs are facing a pitcher who has had a lot of success against them.  The Reds will be sending one of their top starters in Luis Castillo to the mound. In 19 official career at-bats, Bell has only hit .158 with a .483 OPS off of Castillo.  Obviously these are not the numbers one wants to see from their middle of the order bat.

It has been hard enough for the Pittsburgh Pirates to score runs this season, especially when Bell is not hitting the ball.  This year he has yet to record a hit in three plate appearances against Castillo. This is not all the surprising considering their history, which dates back to 2017.

This would be a great time for Bell to break out of his slump against Castillo.  Castillo is a very good pitcher who might have the best changeup in baseball to go along with a power a fastball.  Bell, a player who is often aggressive in his approach, needs to do a better job.  There are one of two things he can dO: Get more aggressive earlier in the count and try not to put himself in a two strike guessing situation or he needs to do the opposite and be more patient and sit back and just try to make contact.

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Regardless, the Pittsburgh Pirates need Josh Bell to keep it going tonight.  He has hit five home runs in his last 22 games.  Playing in Great American Ballpark always helps a hitters chances of getting more, and that’s what the Bucs need from Bell.  Castillo is a very good pitcher so it will be hard to get runs and Bell needs to be the guy to produce those runs tonight.