Pittsburgh Pirates: 3 Takeaways from Opening Series at Wrigley

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 04: Duane Underwood Jr. #56 of the is removed by manager Derek Shelton #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 04, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 04: Duane Underwood Jr. #56 of the is removed by manager Derek Shelton #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 04, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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After a solid win to open the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates struggled as soon as young star Ke’Bryan Hayes went down 

The Pittsburgh Pirates looked strong in their Opening Day victory against the Chicago Cubs last Thursday. The bats were moving and the arms were sharp.

Early in Saturday’s game, though, Pirate third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes suffered a wrist injury that has now shelfed him on the 10-day injured list. Following the setback, the Pittsburgh Pirates would go on to lose the final two games of the series.

After an up and down first weekend in Chicago, here are three takeaways from the Pirates opening series.

The bullpen looks reliable 

In the Pirate win the Pittsburgh bullpen looked almost untouchable. Chad Kuhl started the game struggling to find his command early but would then settle down before being replaced by Dune Underwood Jr. in the 4th. Underwood Jr. came in and struck out the side. Clay Holmes, Sam Howard, David Bednar, and Chris Stratton then followed all pitching an inning each. The committee combined to allow just one hit and an earned run before Richard Rodriguez came in for the save.

The rest of the weekend looked similar for the bullpen as they totaled 14 innings pitched with just four earned runs in the series. A 3.50 ERA for the bullpen to open up the season. The Pittsburgh Pirates have serious depth to relieve their starters this season. If Pittsburgh has a lead by the time the bullpen steps in, fans should have plenty of confidence that the arms coming in can get the job done.

More patience at the plate

Last season the Pittsburg Pirates totaled just 167 walks as a team which resulted in the fourth lowest in all of baseball. The first three games of the season the Pirates have had 16 batters get on base by drawing walks. That is tied for fourth most in all of baseball.

The team batting average (.222)  is ranked 15th in MLB but with the amount of walks the lineup has been drawing it raises the on base percentage to .336 which ranks 9th out of the 28 teams to have played their opening series.  Plate discipline seems to be an emphasis in Pittsburgh’s clubhouse. If the Pirates can continue to work counts and fight to get more men on base, this only means more potential for runs to be scored.

Outfield needs more production at plate

Bryan Reynolds looked a lot better this weekend than he did last year. With the exception of Reynolds though, the outfield has struggled to produce at the plate. Between Gregory Polanco, Anthony Alford, and Dustin Fowler they have combined for just 2 hits in 22 at-bats resulting in a .091 batting average. Luckily Polanco and Alford have managed to draw 3 walks each and it seems Polanco’s plate discipline is better than it has been in the past.

Next. Opportunity Knocking for Phillip Evans. dark

The Pittsburgh Pirates will need more out of the outfield’s bats this season if they want to see an increase in run production. They will also need some power out of Polanco’s with the lack of power this lineup has.

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