Just a couple more observations about the Pirates' strike-zone issues, after yet another game in which the opposing starter racked up strikeouts while the Pirates' starter, well, didn't:
The Pirates' offense currently has 64 strikeouts and 20 walks. That's bad. But looking over the individual numbers, it's clear that this isn't really a team issue. It's an issue a couple guys on the team are having. Remove Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Ryan Doumit from those numbers, and the Pirates have 36 strikeouts and 17 walks, and that includes four strikeouts by the Pirates' pitchers (and many more from bench players). Jose Tabata has four strikeouts and four walks. Andrew McCutchen has two strikeouts and three walks. Garrett Jones and Lyle Overbay have five strikeouts and three walks each. That's all fine.
So really, the problem of the Pirates striking out all the time and never walking is confined to three guys, plus some bench players. One of those three starting guys, Doumit, shouldn't really concern us, because he'll be a bench player when Chris Snyder comes back and because he has an established performance record. Walker's 11-strikeout, two-walk performance should concern us because, as Pat points out, if Walker can't control the strike zone, he goes back to being the player he was when he was bumbling around in Indianapolis. It's also reasonable to think he can make some adjustments, though, when he stops destroying the ball.
That leaves Alvarez, and we never know where we are with him since, for all his talent, every bit of success he has seems so fragile. But he's a known slow starter. The more I think about it, the less concerned I am about the strikeouts so far, as least on the offensive side.
The pitching is another matter. Heading into yesterday's game, the Pirates' pitching staff had a 2.60 ERA and a .666 OPS against despite only registering 32 strikeouts against 24 walks.
Some numbers at FanGraphs tell the story:
FIP is based on pitchers' strikeouts, walks, HBPs and homers allowed; xFIP does the same except it controls for home runs per flyball, since there tends to be a lot of variance in that ratio. So the xFIP is very high in part because the Pirates aren't registering many strikeouts relative to their walks, and also because not many of the flyballs they've allowed have left the park. The one by Troy Tulowitzki yesterday was only the second one they've allowed all year. There will be more - many more.
Now, this is all just fun with small sample sizes at this point, but despite some pretty superficially good-looking performances by the starting pitching staff, basically what the Bucs' season amounts to so far is stuff we already know: the offense is pretty good, but the pitching, well, isn't.