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Five takeaways from Pirates Opening Day

While there wasn’t much to smile about, there were SOME positives.

Pittsburgh Pirates v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images

We know Opening Day was awful for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not only did they get trounced by the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0, but they looked like a completely different team than what we saw in Spring Training.

Most of the Bucs’ pitching was inept, with exception to Chris Stratton and Wil Crowe, hitting was nonexistent for the most part, and injuries continued to plague the team from the opening pitch.

With that in mind, here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

J.T. Brubaker was not the option

Despite his strong look in Spring Training, fans feared that him starting Opening Day would have disastrous results. Unfortunately, those fears came true.

Bru threw 25+ pitches in his first inning of work and then proceeded to give up four earned runs — three coming off of a home run.

He also looked afraid to go after hitters in two-strike counts. When looking back on video, he would work ahead of hitters, then end up throwing three to four balls in the opposing batters box. In addition, these pitches weren’t even close to fooling hitters, so it looked like he couldn’t control what he threw.

Overall, he looked like a kitten trapped in the middle of a busy freeway: lost, scared and unable to shake off the atmosphere around him. If he can bounce back in his next start, great. If not, maybe a move to the bullpen would suit him better.

Forget development, just promote Cruz

From the moment the lineup card was released, Kevin Newman became the center of discussion and the chatter carried throughout the entire game.

While he gave the Pirates their first hit of the season, Newman regressed during the rest of the game, going hitless in his last three at-bats, getting caught stealing, and committing a fielding error.

With that being said, is it worth it keeping Oneil Cruz in AAA while Newman tries to find success in the MLB? Fans aren’t behind Newman anymore and would rather see Cruz in his place.

Wil Crowe might be a solid long-relief option

Considering his rough season last year, Wil Crowe started 2022 on a strong note by throwing two hitless innings in relief of Brubaker.

Sure, he walked three hitters, but his command looked like it improved from last year and he was getting hitters to chase. Because of this, he nabbed three strikeouts, which was the most any Bucs pitcher yesterday earned.

It’s only one game, but Crowe might’ve found his niche in the MLB. If he keeps it up, he’ll be an effective middle inning piece for Pittsburgh down the road.

Don’t fret about Diego’s day

When you debut in the MLB, you feed off the electricity of the big moment.

Normally, prospects are told when they’ll debut so they can mentally prepare for it and get their families, friends, etc. to the ballpark. Diego Castillo, unfortunately, did not have any of that.

With Ke’Bryan Hayes exiting in the first inning, Castillo had to quickly jump in and make his MLB debut on odd terms. Because of that, he went 0-for-3 in the game.

This, however, shouldn’t be taken too seriously, as he’ll hopefully get better with time and reps. If he had a normal debut, things could’ve been much different.

Give him time.

This lineup will be plug-and-play during the first month

This was the Pirates’ 2022 Opening Day lineup:

@Pirates on Twitter

Yikes...

Daniel Vogelbach leading off the season got mixed reviews. Ben Gamel hitting seventh while Newman and Cole Tucker hit ahead of him seemed very suspect. With this in mind, get ready for more wacky lineups in April.

Other than Yoshi Tsutsugo collecting two hits, no other hitters did much, leaving Derek Shelton the option to keep experimenting with the lineup, especially with this weekend coming.

Expect Reynolds and Hayes to swap places during the next couple games, and also expect some new faces mixed into the lineup more, especially the likes of Josh VanMeter and Jake Marisnick.

Do they really deserve to start over some of the others? Not really. But seeing them on the lineup card shouldn’t be a surprise.