As the Pittsburgh Pirates enter June the team sits in the basement of the NL Central. While 2021 may not be a season where the Pirates compete for a playoff spot, Derek Shelton and rest of the staff still have a lot that they can accomplish in the month of June.
As the Pittsburgh Pirates prepare to start a two-game series against the Kansas City Royals and flip the calendar from May to June, the team sports a porous record of 20-32. Unfortunately, things are unlikely to get better in June as the Pittsburgh Pirates will play series against the Los Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, and Milwaukee Brewers, all teams off to strong starts and in the thick of the postseason race.
Looking at the month as a whole a realistic scenario would see the Pittsburgh Pirates going 10-16 and winning two series. With this grim outlook, here are three things that fans can look forward to in the month of June. All of which will lead to the team’s success for the remainder of this season and for many seasons to come.
Establish the Corner Infielders
Two of the team’s best players are currently on the injured list, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Colin Moran. Let’s start with Hayes. Every sports fan in Pittsburgh knows about Hayes. Hayes entered the season as the odds on favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year, while being one of the best prospects that the Pittsburgh Pirates have graduated in many years.
In a shortened 2020 season, Hayes slashed .376/.442/.682/1.124 to pair with stellar defense at third base. While Hayes won’t hit .376 or slug .682 over the course of his career, he showed that he has the ceiling to be one of the premier young player in all of MLB.
Hayes has been injured since the second game of the 2021 season, but has made multiple rehab appearances with the Triple-A club. Barring any setbacks he will rejoin the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday and will resume his every day duties at third base. June will be an important month for Hayes as it will be his first extended time facing MLB pitching in his second year. It is not uncommon for young players to struggle during this time as pitchers will have a better plan for attacking them at the plate. It would be great to see Hayes overcome his recent injury and the inevitable second year slump during the upcoming month.
Many fans forget that the Pittsburgh Pirates have Moran signed through 2023 and that he could be a key transitional piece in the Pirate rebuilding plan. Prospect Mason Martin is the only player currently in the system that could really be a premier MLB first baseman, but is not guaranteed to ever make the club as he consistently ranks outside of the team’s top 15 prospects. Therefore, the Pirates would love to see Moran continue to play solid baseball in June.
Prior to his injury, Moran was slashing .297/.352/.468/.821 and was able to hold down the cleanup spot in the Pirates lineup batting .333 with runners in scoring position. Since his injury, the Pirates offensive production has taken a hit and the lineup has been missing a reliable power bat hitting 4th in the lineup. Thankfully, Jason Mackey reports that Moran will start his rehab assignment early next week.