With the Pittsburgh Pirates set for their 2023 home opener on Friday afternoon, the vibes around the team are much different (in a positive way) than recent seasons
The Pittsburgh Pirates are coming off a big early season series sweep at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. For a variety of reasons, this sweep included, the vibes early in 2023 feel much different than their last few seasons.
Maybe it's just the hopeful fan in me that the 2023 Pirates will be a much different team, but it certainly feels that way early into this season. It's not just the fact they swept Boston in their own home. The dugout feels alive, and players are feeding off each other more than we're used to.
Bryan Reynolds is hitting .417 at bat and continues to show why he needs to remain with the Pirates well into the future. Andrew McCutchen is bringing a veteran presence to a reasonably young Pirates roster that requires leadership. Both Oneil Cruz and Ji Hwan Bae are showing they can be productive offensively and defensively.
The Pirate pitching staff showed some improvement in the Boston series. Mitch Keller got his first season win Wednesday, recording 15 strikeouts and finishing with a 3.86 ERA. While those stats don't jump off the page you can see the confidence he has in his pitching by watching him on the mound. The Pirates currently sit with a team ERA of 3.46, with room to improve.
Not everything has been positive early here into the Pirates 2023 campaign, and you can indeed find things to complain about. You could say the same about every other team in the MLB, especially this early on. Could Ke'Bryan Hayes be hitting over .200 instead of being at .125? Sure, you could point that out all day. I believe Hayes will progress as the season goes on.
The Pirates didn't just sweep the Red Sox, they controlled two of the three games at a high level. Even in game one, they outscored the Red Sox 4-1 after the 1st inning. They did so despite what the naysayers had to say; dare I say, they grabbed the league's attention?
The Pirates home opener this Friday at PNC Park against the Chicago White Sox is expected to be a blackout, with very few seats empty. If the Pirates want to prove the Boston series was not a fluke, they'll need to win their home opener and do so in the same fashion they did against the Red Sox. Minimize the errors in fielding, get productive at-bat, and continue to improve in pitching.
I don't want to get too far ahead, but this team has a roster that can compete and, at the very least, be a step above what they were in 2022.