It’s imperative to get wins against bad teams if you want to be a contender, and the Pirates did just that in this series, taking 3 of 4 from the embarrassingly bad Braves.
Sidebar: One of the recent episodes of the Jonah Keri Podcast had the Braves’ GM John Coppollela as a guest and he gave some really interesting insight into his thoughts on rebuilding a franchise, how it’s frustrating for the fans, etc. I feel like the Pirates went through a lot of this when Neal Huntington took over and it was good to hear from another GM about the rebuilding process. If you have some time, definitely give it a listen.
Back to the Pirates: The offense was monstrous in this series other than the game they lost. Interestingly, the 29 runs they scored is only their third most for a four-game span this season, but it was still a very successful series for them. Offensively, these guys are locked in, as they have been for most of the season, and I would expect them to continue to score at a fast clip.
In direct opposition to that is the pitching [http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-pirates-have-been-good-just-not-in-the-way-we-expected/], which was not very great in this series, especially in the 12-9 win in the second game. Niese and Nicasio pitched pretty poorly and still both got credited with a win. Liriano, meanwhile, pitched pretty well, going 7 full in his start and only yielding 2 runs. Unfortunately, the Pirates’ offense in this game, outside Jung-Ho Kang, couldn’t hit if they were using double-wide cricket bats and Liriano got stuck with a loss.
At this point in the season, the pitching is kind of doing what people hoped it would, and that’s keep the offense afloat with a chance to win games until the pitching gets better with some arms from AAA. That’s still about three weeks out, though, so hopefully these guys can continue to float along and throw in the occasional good start like Jeff Locke did yesterday.
The Buccos take on the Rockies this weekend in Pittsburgh, with Gerrit Cole on the mound tonight. I’m hoping his last start against the Cubs represented a corner turned and he’s about to light up the rest of the National League for the rest of 2016, but that starts tonight against a pretty strong Rockies offense. First pitch is at 7:05pm EDT.