Despite a rough year the Pirates found a way to end the 2020 season at PNC Park on a high note as the Bucs defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-0 this afternoon
2020 has been a rough, unprecedented year for the Pittsburgh Pirates, to say the least. Unprecedented for all teams, especially rough for the Pirates.
From dealing with new rule changes and adapting to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to the on-field problems and now even the off-field problems, the 2020 season has taken a toll on everyone involved with the Pittsburgh Pirates, especially the fans.
Despite today’s win, the Pirates record sits at 18-39 which ranks them last in Major League Baseball. It can be difficult to look at the bright side during a season like this but one positive note that has come out of this down year is the fact that first-year manager Derek Shelton and Pirate fans alike have been given the chance to look at some of the up-and-coming prospects that we may have not gotten an opportunity to see if it weren’t for the many trips to the Injury List that the Pirates have taken this year.
Another Strong Day On the Mound
Entering today’s matchup, Pittsburgh Pirates pitching, both the starting staff and the bullpen, have combined for six quality starts, a 1.80 ERA over 49 1/3 innings, 57 strikeouts with only 15 walks, and a .163 opponent batting average over the past nine games. Those numbers improved after today’s final home game of the 2020 season.
Prior to today’s start Chad Kuhl had 10 previous starts against the Cubs in which he tallied a record of 1-6 and an ERA of 6.75.
Things were different today, as Kuhl threw seven scoreless innings and did not give up a hit until Anthony Rizzo doubled in the sixth. That hit and a Jason Kipnis double were the only hits Kuhl allowed today as he walked three and struck out five in his final outing of the year. This was a great way to finish the year for Kuhl who will finish the 2020 campaign with an ERA of 4.27. This ERA is a bit deceiving, however, as Kuhl had an outlier of a game September 13th against Kansas City in which he gave up nine earned runs over 2 1/3 innings.
Long Ball Powers the Bucs
The Pirates scored in the first five innings today, including three solo home runs in each of the first three innings. Colin Moran launched his team-leading ninth home run in the first inning, a 413-foot shot to center. Moran reached base in all four of his plate appearances today as he was 3-3 with a walk this afternoon. Bryan Reynolds also collected three hits today, including a solo home run to center field of his own in the second inning. Adam Frazier led off the bottom of the third inning with a solo shot to right, his seventh home run of the year. The Pirates utility man has found a bit of a power stroke and will be a large trade candidate for the team this offseason.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Moran singled to right and Josh Bell followed with a home run to left field, his eighth home run of the year. Bell reached base twice this afternoon, going 1-3 with a walk in this one.
A Look Into the Future
As mentioned, the Pirates have had an injury-filled 2020 season. Due to the many injuries and also simply the struggles of this 2020 season, the managerial staff and the front office have been given the opportunity to look at young arms such as Blake Cederlind, who made his debut September 15th in Cincinnati. Cederlind came on in the ninth this afternoon with the Pirates up 7-0 and delivered a 1-2-3 inning, once again hitting 100 MPH on the radar gun. The flame-throwing right-hander is expected to play a large role in the future of the Pirates bullpen and it has been nice to get a glimpse of his abilities and what is to come next season.
Pirates #10 overall prospect outfielder Jared Oliva was recently activated from the taxi squad and made his debut September 21st against Chicago. Outfielder Jason Martin has been back and forth between Pittsburgh and the alternate site in Altoona all year but he was recently placed on the 10-day injured list with an upper back strain and this gave Oliva his first big-league opportunity. Oliva collected his first two major league hits in today’s win, an opportunity he likely would not have received if it were not for the Pirates poor luck this year.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (18-39) have now won three straight and will travel to Cleveland to take on the Indians (32-24) in the final series of the 2020 season. The Indians currently hold the first Wild Card position in the American League playoff picture. Mitch Keller (1-1, 3.24 ERA) will take on Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 2.90) at Progressive Field in Cleveland tomorrow night with the first pitch coming at 7:10 PM EST.