Pittsburgh Pirates: Utility Men Shine in Brutal Series Loss

While the Pittsburgh Pirates were out scored by the Cincinnati Reds 30-8 on their way to being swept the roster’s utility players all had a strong series

The previous three days the Pittsburgh Pirates had three games they would love to forget. As manager Derek Shelton put it following Wednesday’s 11-4 loss against the Cincinnati Reds, “we’re definitely ready to get out of Cincinnati.”

There is little doubting how happy Shelton and the Pittsburgh Pirates were to get out of the Queen City. Not only were the Bucs were swept in their series at Great American Ballpark, they were out scored 30-8 in a series they were not even competitive in.

Few things went right for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The starting pitching was abysmal, the bullpen, after strong season-opening series in Chicago, struggled, and the offense was plagued by the strikeout. One position group that did perform well against the Reds, however, was the team’s utility players.

Leading the way was one of the stars of the first two series of the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates – Phillip Evans. Evans started the first two games fo the series at third base, and in the third game he started in left field. Evans also pitched a 1-2-3 inning in Tuesday night’s loss, which was the lone 1-2-3 inning of the night for Pirate pitching.

Offensively, Evans was just as impressive in the series. Evans went 4-for-12 at the plate. This included a double and a pair of solo home runs. Through the first two series of the season Evans is hitting for a .438/.471/.875 slash line to go with a 259 wRC+. Regardless of the position, right now, Evans needs to be in the lineup each and every day.

After going 0-for-3 in the first two games of the series, Wilmer Difo got a start in game three. In the 11-4 loss, Difo 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. In 8 trips to the plate this season, Difo is now slashing .375/.375/.625 to go wit ha wRC+ of 170.

With Hayes on the injured list Difo will likely see an extended role moving forward. With his ability to play multiple positions at a high level, if Difo can continue to hit at even an average level he will stick around as a bench player with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

For the Pirates, the 2021 season will be all about the future. When it comes to the players on the team’s MLB roster 2021 will be all about determining which players could potentially be part of the future and those who will not. Evans is under team control through the 2025 season while Difo is under control through 2022. Both could play their way into a role beyond this season, especially Evans who has done nothing but hit since joining the Pirates last season.