The Pirates start a 5 game road trip tonight in Baltimore. The Pirates have lost 9 out of 10 games and there have been various issues, but it’s the offense that has hit rock bottom. They have averaged 1.5 runs per game during this stretch. You are not going to win many games only scoring that many runs, thus the Pirates are 1 and 9. The naysayers have been out in full force with the typical, who didn’t know that, the Pirates stink again, and you knew this was too good to be true. The odds of the Pirates coming out of this in the next 4 weeks in my view is a flip of the coin. Heads the Pirates continue to collapse and around the 60 game mark will be under .500. Tails the Pirates will find a way to get back on track and start to play at least .500 ball or better and will be about 4 to 7 games above .500. One good thing is the Pirates have 4 days off from now until June 1. It will give them at various intervals to collect themselves and reset. Will see if yesterday’s off day has any positive effect. So, what could happen?
Heads: There is no question that the injuries to Oneil Cruz and Ji Man Choi have had a major impact on the Pirates offense. When the season started the 13 position players were all of major league caliber. Canaan Smith-Njigba was the only player who disappointed, and he was sent down. What has been brought up is not major league quality. Josh Palacios, Miguel Andujar, Chris Owings, Mark Mathias, and Tucupita Marcano are all nothing but AAA players. The only one that the jury is still out on is Marcano, who has yet to prove that he can hit Major League pitching. Mathias is back down in the minors but the other 4 are on the team and that is a lot of offensive weaklings to be carrying on a team that desperately needs to score runs. The Pirates are not going to bring up any top prospects until that date in June comes around when they won’t get that year’s credit of service. As ridiculous as this is, it is just part of the baseball way today. Unless one of these 4 players can get on some kind of surprising hot streak, the Pirates record at the 60 game mark will be about 28-32.
Tails: So, what needs to happen if the Pirates are going to come out of this slump. Jack Suwinski needs to get back to being the Jack Suwinski he was during the first 28 games. That is something that could happen. Ke’Bryan Hayes needs to get his OPS+ up over 100. Possible but not likely. Ji Hwan Bae needs to start being more selective and get his on base percentage up to about 350 like it was in the minors. This could happen. There does not seem to be much help in AAA. What the Pirates need is a hard hitting outfielder. This is the least likely thing to happen, but they could make a trade. Who would be a good trade piece. In my view Ke’Bryan Hayes. He is a superior glove but does not look like he is ever going to be much of a hitter. A team that has plenty of hitting but needs a defensive 3rd baseman would be interested in Hayes. He has a great team friendly contract. If the bat is big enough even throw in one of our relievers. The Pirates need to run the bases better. Could Austin Hedges get some breaks at the plate. I know he is a horrible hitter, but he has hit some balls that were crushed that wound up being caught. Like a lot of things hitting can be contagious and once they start hitting it could continue until that magical June date that will allow them to bring up some more Major Leaguers. Hopefully by then, it will not be too late.