Pittsburgh Pirates: Injuries Starting to Hit Hard, SPs Struggles, & More Takeaways From Being Swept by Toronto
By Marty Leap
Starting pitching falters throughout the series, poor command a big issue
The single biggest reason the Pittsburgh Pirates got off to such a strong start was due to how well thier starting rotation pitched. Struggles from the starting pitchers sunk the team when they got swept in Tampa Bay during the week, and those struggles carried over into being swept by the Blue Jays.
Rich Hill started on Friday night and turned in the strongest start of the series. However, he still allowed 4 runs in 5.1 innings pitched. Johan Oviedo was lit up like the postgame fireworks on Saturday when he allowed 7 runs. Roansy Contreras was burnt by poor defense in the 1st inning on Sunday, but still allowed a 3-run home run to Whitt Merrifield who had not hit a home run yet this season. Contreras went on to allow 5 runs in 5 innings pitched.
A major issue for both Oviedo and Contreras in this series was poor location. Both pitchers hung breaking pitches and put fastballs in the go zone during their starts. Oviedo and Contreras both struggled to put batters away in two strike counts, and big reason for this was poor location with two strikes.
The poor location is part of what made the starting pitching struggles so frustrating. The home run Contreras allowed to Merrifield came on a pitch Contreras put in the stirke zone. Oviedo hung a poor slider to Brandon Belt with two outs in the 1st inning on Saturday night resulting in a two strike, two out double to score a pair of runs. These were just two examples. Things could have gone much differently in the series had Oviedo and Contreras hit their spots better.