PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 29:  Juan Nicasio #12 and Francisco Cervelli #29 of the Pittsburgh Pirates walk to the dugout before the game against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on April 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Game 23: Pirates 4 Reds 1

After a week of playing a sport that only vaguely resembled baseball in Arizona and Colorado this week, the Pirates’ fifth straight win looked a lot more to my eye like the Pirates of 2013-2015. Juan Nicasio threw seven brilliant shutout innings, striking out eight and holding the Reds to just three hits. The Pirates […]

Don’t look past the Reds

The Pirates are, despite their pitching woes, playing relatively good baseball right now; they won five times in six games against the Diamondbacks and Rockies, and their 13-9 record is slowly climbing up the National League standings. They’re going to open May with two huge series against the Cubs (at home) and in St. Louis. […]

DENVER, CO - APRIL 27:  Jordy Mercer #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a go-ahead RBI double in the 12th inning as catcher Nick Hundley #4 of the Colorado Rockies looks on at Coors Field on April 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Game 22: Pirates 9 Rockies 8

The good news, if i you can call it that, is that the Pirates just played a game on Sunday in which they had a big lead, their bullpen blew said big lead, and the offense bailed everyone out, and so we already know how to feel about last night’s way-too-close-for-comfort 9-8 win over the […]

Jon Niese looks to keep the Pirates rolling

Inside of a week the Pirates have gone from a horrible ball of stress and frustration to a vaunted offense bludgeoned their way towards the upper part of the National League. This is possible because it’s only April, of course, but it’s a welcome change from the week that preceded it. Jon Niese takes the […]

DENVER, CO - APRIL 26:  Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates grounds out to shortstop Cristhian Adames #18 of the Colorado Rockies in the eighth inning at Coors Field on April 26, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Pirates defeated Rockies 9-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Game 21: Pirates 9 Rockies 4

I suppose this goes without saying, but when I type something like perhaps a struggling lefty and Coors Field are what Andrew McCutchen needs to get jump-started, I don’t actually expect the result to be that Andrew McCutchen goes out and lights the Rockies up for three home runs. McCutchen did exactly that, though, launching […]

Gerrit Cole faces the Rockies

Gerrit Cole’s strong start against the Padres last week avoided a sweep in Petco Park and kick-started a solid turn of the rotation for the Pirates, with four wins in five games. Cole’s been solid ever since his rough first inning against the Reds in his first start. After Locke focused entirely on fastballs and […]

DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  Second baseman Josh Harrison #5 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes a put out on a pop foul by Trevor Story #27 of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 25, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Pirates defeated the Rockies 6-1. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Game 20: Pirates 6 Rockies 1

You know the Jeff Locke drill by now; we all do. After a couple of really ugly starts in which Locke lost all feel for the strike zone and had Pirate fans proclaiming that THIS FINALLY HAD TO BE END OF, Locke came out in Coors Field tonight and spun a gem. He threw six […]

Jeff Locke attempts to give the bullpen a night off. In Coors Field.

Anecdotally, Jeff Locke always seems to come with strong starts whenever Pirate fans are ready to drop him from the rotation. His last two starts (out of a total of three in 2016) have been brutal, and as such, he’s been the focus of much Pirate-fan-related angst over the rotation through the season’s first month. […]

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 24:  Sean Rodriguez #3 of the Pittsburgh Pirates waves to fans after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-10 in 13 innings at the MLB game at Chase Field on April 24, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Game 19: Pirates 12 Diamondbacks 10

Sometimes it is easiest to let a game speak for itself, so here are a few facts without commentary: The Pirates and Diamondbacks used 43 total players. The Diamondbacks had four different starting pitchers in the box score in some capacity. Shelby Miller played left field after the D’Backs ran out of position players with […]

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 22: Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with teammate Jonathon Niese #49 after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning at Chase Field on April 22, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Game 17: Pirates 8 Diamondbacks 7

OK, now that I’ve had a full night of sleep, woken up, stretched out some, eaten breakfast, and gotten some caffeine inside of me, I’m willing to try and start re-considering this game from last night. The roof was open at Chase Field last night, and as a result the Pirates and Diamondbacks played a […]

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Game 16: Pirates 11 Padres 1

With all of the things that have been frustrating about the first 2 1/2 weeks of the 2016 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, sometimes it’s really gratifying to sit back and watch a game play out the way that you think it should ahead of time. With the Pirates coming off of two ugly losses […]

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 20:  Jeff Locke #49 of the Pittsburgh Pirates walks back to the mound after giving up a run during the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 20, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Game 15: Padres 8 Pirates 3 (or: the Jeff Locke problem)

I’ll admit that I thought a lot of the off-season conversation about Jeff Locke was a bit misguided. Locke is not a great Major League pitcher, but in his three full years in the Pirate rotation he made 81 starts and threw 466 innings with a 3.98 ERA. That’s quite an output from a fifth […]

Jeff Locke needs to throw more strikes

In Jeff Locke’s first start, he threw 80 pitches in six innings and held the Reds to one run despite giving up seven hits. 53 of those 80 pitches were strikes. In Jeff Locke’s second start, he threw 98 pitches and 51 strikes, he walked seven batters including the leadoff hitter in his first four […]

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 19:  Adam Rosales #9 of the San Diego Padres, center, is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PETCO Park on April 19, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Game 14: Padres 5 Pirates 4

Me, in a sleepy haze around 11:30 last night: Wait, did they say Rosales hit that monster homer off of Arquimedes Caminero? As in, Adam Rosales? As in, that guy that the A’s and Rangers DFA’d like three times between them in one week that one year? Is still in baseball? And hitting towering homers off […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 17:  Starling Marte #6 celebrates withFrancisco Cervelli #29 of the Pittsburgh Pirates after a 9-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on April 17, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Flipping the switch

This is just a hypothesis at this point, but I don’t think that there’s any more that separates the frustrating Pirates that lost six times in seven games against the Reds, Tigers, and Brewers and the fun Pirates that obliterated the Brewers on Saturday and Sunday than there appears to be at first glance. More […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 16:  Jonathon Niese #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on April 16, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jonathon Niese

Niese and Nicasio

The Pirates finally got an easy win last night to snap them out of a week-long stretch of ugly baseball, and I don’t think anyone should be surprised by what got them there; a really nice start from their rotation. In last night’s case it was Jon Niese, making the first seven inning start of […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 14:  Tony Watson #44 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after giving up a two run home run in the eighth inning during inter-league play against the Detroit Tigers at PNC Park on April 14, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Pirates sure could use a win

During the summer of 2013, as I experienced the first actual pennant race of my adult life, I began to notice something. It seems dumb and obvious and patronizing, but as the summer wore on I realized that winning a division is hard. The Pirates started that season 42-30 and found themselves four games behind the Cardinals. […]

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 9: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a pitch during the second inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Gerrit Cole starts again (and: the value of hot starts vs. slow ones)

We should be clear about something: the Pirates have played nine games. They’re 5-4 because they’ve lost four of their last five, but a 5-4 start isn’t a hot start or a cold start or anything at all other than a decent run through nine games (5-4 is actually on pace to win 90 games). […]

FORT MYERS, - MARCH 14: Ryan Vogelsong #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates warms prior to the start of the Spring Training Game against the Boston Red Sox on March 14, 2016 at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South, Florida. The Pirates defeated the Red Sox 3-1. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The Return of Ryan Vogelsong

Story time! Way back in the cold hinterlands of Pittsburgh Pirate history known as 2001, we Pirate fans had little we could do other than accept on faith that Dave Littlefield could not be any worse than the man he was replacing (Cam Bonifay) and that he was about to set the Pirates on a […]

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