I’m willing to posit that this is the team we will see for most of the 2020 MLB season; an incapable bullpen and rotation when the offense finds a spark, and a sputtering offense when the bullpen and rotation pieces together a respectable performance. Last night in their 3-0 loss to the Brewers, the Pirates assumed the identity of the latter. Brandon Woodruff (1-1) looked more like Max Scherzer than himself as he one hit the Buccos over 6.1 innings of work. The one hit he surrendered was a weak bloop to the outfield by right fielder Gregory Polanco.
Joe Musgrove (0-2) earned all three of the runs the Brewers put up in the contest, but each came by way of home runs; Ben Gamel hit a two-run blast while Keston Hiura hit a solo-shot. Those were Musgrove’s only mistakes on the night as he walked just three and struck out eight. Reliever Robbie Erlin was another bright spot in terms of pitching yesterday; the lefty struck out three over two innings of work while walking one.
The offense has become a scary sight for the Pirates early on this season. They are dead last in team batting average in the league, sitting at a ghastly .171 to start the year. Slumps from noted offensive stalwarts Kevin Newman, Bryan Reynolds, and Josh Bell have been largely detrimental, but there’s no doubt that the offense is a team problem. The likes of Adam Frazier, Gregory Polanco, and Erik Gonzalez have been no better. The team cannot expect to win games on the backs of Colin Moran and Philip Evans’ offensive production.
It’s seemingly clear that manager Derek Shelton is feeling out his roster the best he can through these first six games; the lineup has been consistently juggled and several relief pitchers have been thrown into hot water early on (is the Michael Feliz experiment over yet?). That’s the only explanation I can find for trotting out Rich Rodriguez in higher leverage situations and sitting Cole Tucker after a two-hit performance.
Time will tell as the Pirates travel to Chicago to square off with the Cubs for a three-game series starting tomorrow at 8:15 PM E.T.