Pittsburgh Pirates: Missed Opportunities Lead to Series Loss in Cincinnati

Apr 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (27) throws
Apr 2, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (27) throws / David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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Starting pitching was not good enough

While the Pirate starting pitching was not terrible, it was not good enough. Mitch Keller started on Opening Day and was one pitch away from turning in a good start, but he allowed a 2-run triple on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the 5th inning.

This led to Keller allowing 4 runs in 4.2 innings pitched. Although, Keller should get recognition for what he did in the 1st inning. The Reds loaded the bases with no one out via a walk, a weakly hit gorund ball seeing eye single, and borken bat bloop to left field. However, a double play ball and a strikeout cleaned things up allowing Keller to get out of the inning allowing just 1 run.

Saturday afternoon saw the best starting pitching performance of the weekend for the Pirates. Veteran lefty Rich Hill pitched 5 innings, allowing 3 runs. Had it been later in the season Hill likely would have gotten a 6th inning.

Hill allowed just three hits, but two of the three hits were home runs. This does come with a bit of a grain of salt though, as Jonathan India's home run that led off the bottom of the 1st inning would have been a routine fly out at any other MLB ballpark. Had that ball ended in a fly ball out the 3-run 1st inning the Reds had against Hill may have gone very differently. Following the 1st inning, Hill allowed jsut one hit while striking out four and walking one in 4 scoreless innings pitched.

Sunday afternoon Vince Velasquez made his Pirate debut. The veteran allowed a pair of solo home runs, as part of surrendering 3 runs on five hits, a walk, and three strikeouts in 4.2 innings pitched. Again, not terrible but also not nearly good enough.

Moving forward the Pirates need to get more length out of their starting pitchers, but that should be expected as the season goes on. This is especially important with how poor the Pirate bullpen could be this season. While the bullpen pitched well outside of one poor inning by Chase De Jong, there are still plenty of question makrs around the 'pen. The more innings you get out of the starting rotation the less these potential bullpen issues can arise.