The Pittsburgh Pirates series aganist the Tampa Bay Rays has not been fun, to say the least. But it's still one series and we can't panic just yet, especially after how well the team has played.
The Pittsburgh Pirates series with the Tampa Bay Rays has not been fun, and that’s putting it extremely lightly. From probably the worst umpiring the team has had to deal with in years to going 0-17 with runners in scoring position in the first two games, and defensive miscues all over the place, there’s nothing good to talk about except for an Andrew McCutchen home run.
It’s an ugly series, yes, but acting like ‘this is the start of the end’ and panicking is a bit to early, in my opinion. This team was unbelievable in April, and we’re less than a week removed from one of the strongest finishes to the year the organization has had in decades.
In the last two weeks of April (April 16th through the 30th), the Pirates had six players with a qualifying amount of plate appearances and a wRC+ of 100 or greater. Five of them had 120 or greater, including Jack Suwinski, Connor Joe, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds, and Carlos Santana.
Having six productive batters in the line-up is a good way to end April, but having four of your five starting pitchers having an ERA of 3.50 or lower in that stretch also helps. The worst of the bunch was Johan Oviedo, but one bad start inflated his numbers in that two week stretch. Vince Velasquez, Rich Hill, and Roansy Cotnreras all had a sub-2.00 ERA and sub-3.00 FIP. Even the bullpen was lights out for the most part with seven scoreless from David Bednar, 7.1 scoreless from Duane Underwood, and a promising return from Robert Stephenson.
Let’s also not forget that there’s still a lot to look forward to this year. The Pirates will eventually see the arrival of Henry Davis, Endy Rodriguez, and Luis Ortiz. That’s just a few players we will likely see later this year. Plenty more could make their debut later on. Remember, we’re less than a week into May. It’s not September. We still have many more months of baseball ahead of us.
This is going to sound cliche (because it kind of is), but one of my favorite movies of all time is Rocky Balboa, the sixth movie in the long-standing franchise. One of the most famous scenes from the entire series is when Rocky gives his son an inspiring speech, including the line “It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
This is something that can really apply to this series. The Pirates have taken the roughest loss of their season so far. What’s not important is that they lost. Even the best teams in baseball lose 60 games or more in a season. What’s important is how they respond after facing adversity for the first time this year. This is a 162 game season, and we still have over 130 left to play. Panicking now is not worth it.