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Know Your Enemy: Pittsburgh Pirates

I hate them because they aren’t actual pirates

Sand sculpture show on Rügen Stefan Sauer/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Pirates are one of those teams you don’t “really” hate. They’ve been around forever and they haven’t been good for awhile.

Even their mascot doesn’t inspire hate from our Mascot Correspondent Addy:

You’re right, Addy. He is silly.

2020 Pirates: 19-41 (fifth in the NL Central, dead last in all baseball)

The Pirates had a rougher season than most. They were not one of the teams that dumb-lucked their way into the expanded playoffs, and they had very little to actually be excited about. Ke’Bryan Hayes was a fantastic player on a terrible team, slashing .376/.442/.682 in 95 plate appearances. Josh Bell went off to play on the Nationals as the Pirates ownership continued their regular trend of tearing down the team, selling it for parts, and “rebuilding.”

I could say it wasn’t all bad, but then I’d be lying. They were dead last in the NL in runs, OBP, SLG, OPS, saves, and walking batters (second-to-last in drawing walks). They were also dead last in total runs scored (219) in all of baseball. For those of you who put a lot of weight in batting averages, they ranked 13 in the NL there. Colin Moran hit the most home runs on the team with a solid ... 10. The good news for the Pirates is that their terrible performance gave them the first overall draft pick so, yay. This was Derek Shelton’s first year as manager, along with Ben Cherington’s first year as GM, so that really doesn’t help things.

The pitching staff had a combined ERA of 4.68 over 513 innings. Opponents hit .235 against the Pirates and the staff recorded a 536 strikeouts. The starting rotation had a combined ERA of 4.74 over 60 starts with an 8.78 K/9 rate. Relievers had a 4.62 ERA with 260 strikeouts.

The Pirates did help Lucas Giolito continue his dominance and throw a no-hitter, but that’s more good news for White Sox fans than Pirates fans.

2021 manager: Derek Shelton

Derek Shelton bounced around the minors as a player for a little bit before he got picked up by Cleveland as its hitting coach. From there he went to Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Minnesota before being tapped to manage the Pirates when Clint Hurdle retired/was fired during their 2019 collapse. Going into his second season, Shelton has a career record of 42-83.

Having only managed for a year and some change, there’s not a lot out there about Shelton’s tendencies as a manager. He’s called for the sac bunt 0.8% of the time (probably because it doesn’t work) and in 25 challenges has had 10 overturned. He’s been ejected four times in his career, too. From the looks of it he pulls pitchers early and often, much to the consternation of a lot of people.

He’s from Carbondale, and went to SIU. Seriously folks, there’s not a lot out there about him.

2021 so far ...

The 2021 Pirates have brought us such plays as a home run being an out for not stepping on first:

And whatever this was supposed to be:

This particular play had everyone and their mother calling Báez a genius, which is a bit of a stretch because it looks mostly like the Pirates forgot how baseball works.

Right now they’re comfortably living in the basement of the NL Central, 13 12 back from first and almost 10 behind the Reds (who are in fourth). Out of the 15 NL teams, the Pirates are last in runs, home runs, and SLG. Their pitching staff has a combined ERA of 4.79 in 70 games, with just nine saves and 576 strikeouts.

Adam Frazier is leading with a .322 batting average and 88 hits (side note: he’s a second baseman, can we pack him in the luggage back to Chicago?). Bryan Reynolds is leading everywhere else with 12 home runs, 36 RBIs, and a .394 OBP.

Pitching has JT Brubaker leading in wins (four), ERA (3.77), and strikeouts (72). Saves are led by Richard Rodriguez (eight) and holds by Sam Howard (nine).

In the Pirates’ last 10 games they’re 2-8, and 8-22 in their last 30. At home they’re posting a 15-20 record, and are 21-33 against RHP while going 4-12 against LHP. They’re 7-6 in inter-league play.

Honestly, I’m just trying to find anything good here. Their 2021 season is kind of on fire, and not in a good way.

Pitching matchups: no-hitter repeat possibility

Tonight is Lucas Giolito vs. Tyler Anderson. Anderson was last out against Washington and gave up five runs in the first, but ultimately made it through six innings (and gave up only one more run). In Anderson’s last seven games, he’s 1-4 and went 40 13 innings while allowing 46 hits and 30 runs for an ERA of 6.25. He’s never faced the White Sox as a starter and is 3-7 for the season with a 4.89 ERA and 65 strikeouts. Giolito is 1-0 against the Pirates (his no-hitter last year) and is 3-2 in his last seven starts, posting a 3.33 ERA.

Wednesday is Dylan Cease vs. Chase De Jong. We all know how Cease is doing pitching-wise, so the real interest here is going to be hitting. He went 3-for-3 with 0.2 offensive WAR in his first and only interleague road start vs. the Reds earlier this season, so let’s see how Cease does against the great pitching of Pittsburgh. De Jong was selected to start his first game this season on May 30, and has only been in the majors for a short amount of time. He’s 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA to show for it and 17 strikeouts. Obviously De Jong hasn’t faced the White Sox as a starter ...

Why do we hate them?

We kinda don’t, but it’s all in fun anyway. Their uniforms need to be more “pirate-y” and they definitely need some kind of pirate ship in the stadium.