Derek Shelton is not the long-term answer at manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Wednesday afternoon fans saw the latest example of why
In the eyes of many people Wednesday afternoon’s game may have seemed like nothing more than a blip on the radar. A drop in the bucket of what will likely be a 100+ loss season for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pittsburgh Pirates walked off the also lowly Cincinnati Reds 4-3 when Kevin Newman singled home Rodolfo Castro in the 10th inning. With the win the Pirates swept the Reds, to improve to 59-97 on the season and pull within a game of the Reds for climbing out of the basement of the National League Central.
Bryse Wilson started for the Pirates on Wednesday. While Wilson has had a very poor 2022 season, Wednesday afternoon he turned in what was by far the best start of his major league career.
Wilson was dominant from the get-go on Wednesday afternoon. He pitched a career high 8 innings and did not allow a run. Wilson allowed just three hits, walked a batter and struck out six. Having thrown just 90 pitches through 8 innings, it appeared that Wilson would get the opportunity to go for a complete game. Hell, it appeared he may have even had the shot at the very elusive ‘Maddux.’ For those who are unaware, a ‘Maddux’ is when a starting pitcher throws a complete-game shutout with less than 100 pitches.
Instead, Pirate manager Derek Shelton went to Chase De Jong to start the 9th inning. Well, De Jong quickly blew the lead as he allowed a single and two home runs to the first three batters he faced. Just like that, the Reds had tied the game.
Pulling Wilson in that situation was flat out wrong. Wilson was dominating and in total and complete control of the Reds, all while keeping his pitch count low. Having neither Wil Crowe nor David Bednar available made the decision even worse.
Furthermore, it is the final week of the season and potentially Wilson’s final start. Factor in how poor of a season he has had, yet he continued to take the ball for the Pirates and eat innings, he earned the right to go for the complete-game shutout. Being pulled in that situation had to be demoralizing for Wilson.
Not only was pulling Wilson wrong to do to his pitcher, it was wrong to do to his team. Hell, the decision nearly cost his team a victory. A victory that helped pull them within a game of getting out of last place in their division. While that may not sound like much, these are still competitors and professional athletes who, if nothing else, due to pride and self respect do not want to finish in last place.
Has Shelton been dealt a tough deck trying to manage a team that is in a rebuild and a roster that was not made to be competitive? Absolutely. Have many of his decisions with managing his starting rotation, bullpen, lineup contraction, and sticking with fledging veterans too long been poor managerial decisions that make it appear he is not the long-term answer? Absolutely.
Shelton being put in a very difficult position as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Shelton being a very poor in-game manager can both be true. Wednesday’s decision to pull Wilson is just the latest example of this, and the latest example of why Shelton is not the long-term answer for the Pirates as the team’s manager.