Ke'Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds home runs highlight Pirate offensive outburst

Feb 20, 2024; Bradenton, FL, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes (13) poses for a
Feb 20, 2024; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes (13) poses for a / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
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Luis Ortiz's fastball velocity

Right-handed pitcher Luis Ortiz dazzled with an impressive cup of coffee in the majors in September of 2022. The highlight of his success that month was his power fastball that sat in the high-90s, hitting 100+ MPH multiple times.

Last season, Ortiz was viewed as a breakout candidate for the Bucs. Well, unfortunately, this did not come to fruition as he posted a 4.78 ERA and a 5.57 FIP in 86.2 innings pitched across 18 MLB appearances.

A big factor for Ortiz's struggles was that his stuff did not look as sharp or explosive as it did in 2022. Tuesday afternoon, that explosive fastball was back from Ortiz. He allowed an unearned run in 2 innings pitched, but that came on just a single hit, a walk, and 2 strikeouts.

Ortiz threw 7 pitches that clocked in at 98 MPH or greater on the radar gun. If the Pirates can get anywhere close to the Ortiz they saw in September 2022 this season it would be a huge boost to the pitching staff. Tuesday was an encouraging sign.

The rest of the pitching

Competing for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, lefty Jose Hernandez walked a batter in a hitless, scoreless 5th inning. Hunter Stratton allowed a hit and issued a walked, but struck out a pair in a scoreles 6th inning.

Kyle Nicolas also allowed a hit, issued a walk, and struck out two as he fired a scoreless 7th inning. This was a nice bounce back outing from Nicolas who struggled mightily in his first Grapefruit League outing over the weekend. Michael Plassmeyer pitched a scoreless 8th inning and J.C. Flower struck out the side in a scoreless 9th inning.