Another day, another disheartening, noncompetitive loss for the Pittsburgh Pirates
There were two things that took place this evening in the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0 embarrassment at the hands of the Chicago Cubs.
One, starting pitcher Osvaldo Bido earned a quality start in only his second start in the major leagues, although quality might be a strong word based on his less than impressive second inning performance, but Pirates fans have to take what they can get these days.
Second, and most obvious, was that former number-one overall draft pick Henry Davis doubled in his first major league at-bat. Davis also hit the Pirates' hardest ball of the night as he carried center fielder Mike Tauchman to the warning track in the eighth inning before being retired.
While those were encouraging signs, it hardly made up for the collectively noncompetitive effort laid forth by the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of the largest Monday night crowd since the home opener of 2019.
Noncompetitive! That should be the word of the day and of the past week. Seven consecutive losses to divisional opponents with only one of those games decided by less than three runs.
Noncompetitive! The Pirates struck out seven more times and have averaged eight per game in the last week. The topper was Jack Suwinski watching strike three go by to end the game. Many Pirates have been doing that in this noncompetitive stretch of baseball the past week.
Noncompetitive! Ji Hwan Bae had a throwing error that led to the final three runs being scored. The fact that the competitive phase of the game was long since over is irrelevant.
Bae has seen his errors increase while hitting numbers have decreased as Bae is hitting a meager .214 in the month of June with ONE extra base hit, which doesn't seem possible for someone with his speed. Tonight's error was his ninth already this season, six of which has come when he played second base.
Noncompetitive! Rodolfo Castro is supposed to be a nightmare for left handed pitchers as he came into tonight batting .351 against lefties and .186 against righties. Last night, he struck out and popped up weakly to shortstop.
Noncompetitive! Austin Hedges.....eh, 'nuff said.
Even Pirates longtime favorite Andrew McCutchen wasn't immune as he walked to lead off for the Pirates only to be summarily picked off first. He also flailed like a rookie at curve balls at or near the dirt in each of his plate appearances.
This could go on and on, sadly enough. Anyone who witnessed this game in person or on the tube watched with excitement and hope as Davis made his long awaited debut, only to be disappointed by a noncompetitive team that was in first place a week ago and now finds itself a half game away from dropping to fourth.
Despite the arrival of an exciting rookie like Davis, this is a team with far too many problems to fix in order to stem the tide of impending, and expected, mediocrity. Tonight was the most glaring example of this.
There is hope on the horizon. Davis here is part of that hope.
There are also three talented outfielders in Indianapolis who need to continue to develop, but could be close to getting long-term looks in Pittsburgh with Canaan Smith-Njigba, Travis Swaggerty, and Cal Mitchell.
In the lower levels of the minor leagues, there are projected future stars such as Termarr Johnson, Liover Peguero, Bubba Chandler, and Jared Jones amongst several others in MLB's 8th-best farm system.
These names don't include whichever LSU product the Pirates will choose in next month's amateur draft, either Dylan Crews or Paul Skenes.
Those are names of the future. In the present, the Pittsburgh Pirates have become noncompetitive throughout the last week.
Remember the fun and excitement this team brought back in April when they were 20-8 and could do no wrong. We even saw longtime minor leaguer Drew Maggi play in his first major league games and contributed to the fun.
There was so much hope and good feelings that manager Derek Shelton got his contract extended. No one really questioned it then, but how many are questioning it now? Now, the only real hope seems to be coming from the future rather than the present once again. There is no question that there is talent on the horizon.
Aside from ridiculous trades, the biggest knock on former general manager Neal Huntington was that under his watch, the farm system regressed either through poor development or inferior talent evaluation.
According to many pundits, current GM Ben Cherington has acquired a lot of young talent during his tenure and has re-stocked the shelves in the minors that Huntington almost left bare. The question now becomes can he develop the talent that is the future of the franchise because the present is looking bleak. Or, in other words, noncompetitive.