The Pirates didn't hit enough to win a Juan Nicasio game, the bullpen wasn't strong enough to sustain another short Juan Nicasio outing and the Bucs lost a Juan Nicasio start to the Diamondbacks, 7-1, on Saturday.
Nicasio had another back-and-forth outing. He struck out four, including three on just three pitches (The strike zone was a little wonky on both ends). He also walked four and got punished on Chris Herrmann's long RBI double to right in the second and David Peralta's solo home run in the third.
It's not that Nicasio was particularly bad -- he even started to mix in his changeup in the third, which was a welcome development. He only made it through five innings, which is the norm with him. That's not good, but even that can be sustainable in a better situation. He'd be a lot more effective if the Pirates had a couple guys like, say, Juan Nicasio to relieve him.
Therein lies the problem.
A bullpen with two or three reliable arms (and was heavily worked the previous night) couldn't keep the Pirates close. Arquimedes Caminero pitched a scoreless sixth and A.J. Schugel did the same in the seventh, but Schugel was sent out for a second inning in a one-run game -- I'm not even sure there were much better options in this case -- and the Diamondbacks erupted for a five runs in the eighth.
Paul Goldschmidt, Yasmany Tomas and Nick Ahmed singled, David Freese couldn't handle Chris Owings' grounder and the ever-dangerous Herrmann cracked a three-run homer before Rob Scahill had to finish the inning.
The Pirates' offense didn't get much going against Rubby De La Rosa, who settled in for six strikeouts and just one walk and three hits in six innings.
Sean Rodriguez gave the Pirates an early lead with a solo homer in the second. He took a pretty low pitch for what should have been ball four, but, for some reason, was not. The next pitch wasn't nearly as low, but still below the strike zone. Needing to protect, he golfed the 96 MPH fastball out to right field.
I was annoyed to see Rodriguez starting at shortstop in place of Jordy Mercer, and I'm sure I'll still have the same reflexive reaction in the future. But he just keeps hitting. And he has some kind of approach up there. I don't know. It's really weird. It sure beats thinking about the pitching staff, though.