Pittsburgh Pirates: Unsung Bullpen Heroes, Key Heating Up, Takeaways From Sweeping Cardinals

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A werid series for the starting rotation

The Pirate starting rotation has mostly been fine this season. However, injuries are starting to pile up and there have been some ineffectiveness of late. As for this series, it was certainly a strange one for their starting pitchers.

Friday night Roansy Contreras pitched just 4 innings, but he pitched extremely well in 3.2 of these 4 innings. The problem is with two outs in the 3rd inning Contreras allowed five straight hits, including a pair of home runs, leading to all 5 runs the Cardinals scored in game one.

Typically starts that are 4 innings and see a pitcher allow 5 runs are very poor starts. 5 runs in 4 innings did not tell the full story for Contreras, though. Otuside of that five batter stretch in the 3rd inning, Contreras allowed just two hits and struck out six batters in 3.2 innings of work. It was certainly a weird start.

Saturday afternoon Luis Ortiz appeared to be on his way to a strong start. Through 2 innings his slider was working and the only hard contact he allowed was a solo home run by Willson Contreras. However, an hour long rain delay caused Ortiz's day to end after just 2 innings pitched.

Veteran lefty Rich Hill took the mound on Sunday. With the team in dire need of Hill to not just pitch effectively, but to cover as many as innings as possible in the process the veteran did just that for his team.

After the Pirate bullpen had to cover 12 innings in the first two games of the series they were a depleted group on Sunday afternoon. Hill stepped up and pitched 6.2 innings, with the only run he allowed being an Andrew Knizner solo home run in the 7th inning. Hill allowed four hits, walked three, and struck out six.

This was one of his best starts since joining the Pirates and, when you cosider the circumstances, one of the best outings of the season from a Pirate starting pitcher. It was the type of start you expect from a veteran like Hill.