Pride and Shame: The Feelings of Being a 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates Fan

Oakland Athletics v Pittsburgh Pirates
Oakland Athletics v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

To be a fan of the 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates means experiencing almost equal parts pride and shame.

Pride in watching the Pirates win eleven out of twelve games in second half of April.

Shame in watching the Pirates turn right around and lose the next eleven out of twelve. The saving grace to that streak, at least, was that most of the losses came to Baltimore and Toronto who are a combined 20 games over .500 at the moment.

Pride in the Pirate winning six games in a row over the last week or so, including a sweep of their arch nemesis, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Shame in watching the Pirates get blown out twice in the last 24 hours by the worst team in baseball by a rather significant margin, the Oakland A's, with arguably our two most talented pitchers in Mitch Keller and Roansy Contreras.

With a young team like the 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates are, one should expect the highs and lows of youth. One should be grateful that despite the embarrassment of losing twice in a row to Oakland that these young Pirates haven't given fans more lows than highs.

Since Barry Bonds' ill-fated throw to the plate in Atlanta that failed to beat the turtle-like speed of Sid Bream in the 1992 National League Championship Series, the Pirates have made their fans feel a lot more shame than pride outside of their three-year playoff run from 2013-2015.

Despite the happenings of the past 24 hours, the Pittsburgh Pirates are three games over .500 a week into June. With all of the ups and downs of the season so far, including the loss of exciting shortstop Oneil Cruz through most of it, what Pirates' fan wouldn't have signed up and been happy with where the Bucs are at this moment?

Adding to the feeling of pride towards the Pirates should be the fact that Pittsburgh is one of only six teams in the National League that is over .500 at the moment.

Despite their extraordinary starting pitching staff and several hitting stars, one of those teams is not the New York Mets. The Mets are coming to town on Friday for a three-game series.

The Pirates will be facing Tylor Megill, Kodai Senga, and Carlos Carrasco, thus avoiding Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Pittsburgh will counter with Rich Hill, Johan Oviedo, and Keller, who will be working on three days rest.

Inconsistency comes with youth and inexperience, that is to be expected. A more experienced team most likely would have crushed Oakland this week.

The inconsistency is most glaring with the starting pitching.

The ace of the staff, Mitch Keller, had eight quality starts out of nine after opening day, but has given up 15 runs in 17.1 innings since.

Contreras had looked very good in the first month and a half except for outings against Baltimore and Houston. However, his last three starts have been terrible as he has given up 15 runs in only 9.1 innings of work. He was even relegated to the bullpen against Seattle on May 28, but did work two scoreless innings that night.

Hill started with two bad outings against Cincinnati and the Chicago White Sox, then ran off four quality starts in a row. Following that, Hill had two more bad outings then came back a quality start, then two more bad starts and, finally, Hill shut down St. Louis for 6.2 innings on Sunday before giving up a home run to end his morning.

Oviedo had three poor starts and three quality starts in April. Officially, Oviedo had only one quality start in May, but outside a smashing at the hands of Toronto to start the month, he gave up only six runs in his next four starts, then entered June with a seven-inning quality start against Oakland Monday.

Luis Ortiz has started five games for Pittsburgh and has one quality start to show for it. Ortiz worked relief this afternoon and was effective before giving up two runs in his fifth inning out of the bullpen.

Pirates' fans are going to have to become accustomed to such inconsistencies throughout the season with the current starting staff and the Pirates will have to live or die with the results. That is unless general manager Neal Huntington makes a significant trade acquisition or if he brings up Quinn Priester from Indianapolis.

As mentioned in a previous article, the Pirates' bullpen has been quite consistent throughout the year with yesterday's "performance" of Chase DeJong notwithstanding. On a side note, has there ever been a player DFA'd twice by the same team before the All-Star Break because it sure seems DeJong is headed that way.

The fan base of the Pittsburgh Pirates may be angry and upset for having been embarrassed twice in a row by Oakland, who is historically bad at this point. However, things could be a whole lot worse as most of the last 30 years have shown.

The Pirates have the day off to regroup before facing the New York Mets, then they get to see division rivals in Chicago and Milwaukee twice each this month. Be patient and let's see how the rest of the month plays out. You're bound to see a lot more pride and shame.

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