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 […]

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 12: Pitching coach Ray Searage #54 talks with pitcher Juan Nicasio #12 and Francisco Cervelli #29 during the second inning of the interleague game against the Detroit Tigers on April 12, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Juan Nicasio’s bad start (and the rotational depth problem)

After Juan Nicasio’s first start, which was obviously hugely positive, I ran a brief list of things that we couldn’t draw conclusions about after one start. They were: If he can really survive with two pitches (he only threw five changeups tonight), how he adjusts when hitters adjust, if he has lefty problems, how he holds up […]

Another afternoon game

The Pittsburgh/Detroit Afternoon Baseball Extraganza featuring Afternoon Baseball on Every Day Except the One Day When a Night Game Overlaps With the Penguins and Donald Trump rolls on this afternoon in Comerica Park. Juan Nicasio starts for the Pirates, looking to build on his strong first start of the season last week against the Cardinals. […]

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 11: Starling Marte #6 Andrew McCutchen #22 and Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrate a win over the Detroit Tigers on April 11, 2016 at Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan. The Pirates defeated the Tigers 7-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Game 7: Pirates 7 Tigers 4

Here’s a good way to erase the bad taste from a series loss to the Reds that included a lot of frustrating non-clutch hitting: seven runs on 17 hits without a homer that included a 6-for-15 performance with runners in scoring position. The Pirates absolutely hammered Justin Verlander this afternoon, touching him up for ten […]

Unexpected afternoon game Bat Signal: get your radios ready

For whatever reason, the Pirates and Tigers are playing three afternoon games in four days this week, so if listening to baseball on the radio/computer at work is your thing, then this is the next best thing to a series at Wrigley Field. The Tigers were snowed out last night, so Justin Verlander’s start is […]

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 10: Devin Mesoraco #39 of the Cincinnati Reds tags out Josh Harrison #5 of the Pittsburgh Pirates at home plate to end the eight inning at Great American Ball Park on April 10, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh 2-1. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Bad losses (in April) (and OBP) (and RISP) (and Gerrit Cole) (and maybe I should’ve blogged more on the weekend)

It is relatively easy to want to instinctively refer to certain baseball games as “bad” losses or “good” wins. This is a natural and understandable response, given that sometimes baseball teams lose games they probably should’ve won (like, for example, the Pirates yesterday) and sometimes the win games they probably should’ve lost, but I’m not […]

CINCINNATI, OHIO - APRIL 08: Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a grand slam in the eighth inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 8, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Pirates defeated the Reds 6-5. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The first home run (and Gerrit Cole’s first start)

I was out last night for a friend’s birthday, which meant that I spent the night stealing glances at my phone, wondering if the Pirates were going to somehow score enough runs to erase the deficit that kept growing. There’s a little jolt of electricity that you get when you watch a game this way and […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 6:  John Jaso #28 of the Pittsburgh Pirates scores after a throwing error during the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 6, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Game 3: Pirates 5 Cardinals 1

At any point in the early season, I try to keep two main goals in mind: try not to over-react to a small-sample size result, but to try and find things inside of those small sample sizes that might be meaningful going forwards. So, for example, Juan Nicasio’s line tonight was great, but it’s not […]

at McKechnie Field on March 6, 2016 in Bradenton, Florida.

Juan Nicasio debuts the day after a long day for the bullpen

In the immediate aftermath of last night’s walkoff win, I think I missed the most important part of the game in my recap; the way that the bullpen bailed Jon Niese (and the defense behind him) out of a subpar start is exactly how the Pirates plan on surviving several months of Niese + Locke + Nicasio […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 05:  Jordy Mercer #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates a walk off RBI single in the eleventh inning with Josh Harrison #5 during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on April 5, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Game 2: Pirates 6 Cardinals 5

In watching Sunday’s Opener against the Cardinals, I kind of felt like the Pirates were clicking along in mid-season form against a team playing their first game of the year on a cold Pittsburgh April afternoon. The Pirates very quickly reminded me tonight that drawing conclusions based on one game is dumb by doing some […]

Jon Niese makes his Pirate debut

After Francisco Liriano’s strikeout bonanza on Sunday, Jon Niese takes his first turn in the Pirate rotation this evening. I wrote a ton about Niese already today and so I’ll simply leave my general pre-game thoughts on him tonight to this: watch where he throws his fastball. Watch where he throws it to both righties […]

BRADENTON FL- MARCH 3: Starting pitcher Jonathon Niese #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching during the second inning of the Spring Training Game against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 3, 2016 at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida. The Blue Jays defeated the Pirates 10-8. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Jon Niese seems like a good fit for the Pirate Approach to Pitching

There was plenty of discussion (read: analysis, hot takes, etc.) when the Pirates swapped Neil Walker for Jon Niese over the winter, but there was one unmissable implication in the trade itself: the Pirates wanted Jon Niese. Sure, they wanted his contract (the two team options give them a lot of control over a potentially valuable […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 03:  Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Michael Morse #38 after scoring on an RBI double in the eighth inning during opening day against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on April 3, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Pirates sign Gregory Polanco to five-year extension

If you were excited by Gregory Polanco’s season debut this afternoon (and I certainly was), then there’s even more good news tonight: the Pirates have signed Polanco to a five-year extension (that is, through is arbitration years) plus two team options. The deal could keep Polanco in black and gold through his 30th birthday, if […]

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