Cincinnati Reds: Previewing the upcoming series against the Buccos

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 21: Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reaches back for the bag as Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds tags him out during the first inning at Great American Ball Park on July 21, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 21: Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reaches back for the bag as Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds tags him out during the first inning at Great American Ball Park on July 21, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

What’s up Reds Country? We sat down with our FanSided counterparts over at Rum Bunter to discuss the upcoming series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds.

We recently sat down with our FanSided counterparts from Rum Bunters to check in on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cincinnati Reds go head-to-head with the Buccos at PNC Park. The series gets an early start on Labor Day at 1:30 PM ET. Let’s see what Rum Bunters had to say about their beloved Pirates.

1. The Pirates, like the Cincinnati Reds, are virtually out of the playoff hunt. What’s the general feeling among Pittsburgh fans? There is a lot of disgust, borderline apathy. Fans checked out on the team after they traded Andrew McCutcheon and Gerrit Cole in the offseason.

During the season this started to change when the team reeled off 11 consecutive wins in July and then added Keone Kela and Chris Archer. But a 10-17 August drove many fans back to checking out.

More from Blog Red Machine

Now, in my opinion, some fans are being too hard on the team. The Bucs should have arguably the top bullpen in 2019 and a Top 5 starting rotation. When your pitching is that good, odds are, you’ll win a lot of baseball games.

2. Do you expect to see Clint Hurdle return as the Pirates manager in 2019? If not. who do you want to see take over? I’ll be surprised if Hurdle does not return due to the 4-year contract extension he received last fall.

Personally, I think it’s time for a change and Hurdle needs to be fired. A guy I would target is former Yankees manager Joe Girardi. But, like I said, I expect Hurdle to be back in 2019.

3. Who’s the best player that nobody’s heard of on this year’s Pirates squad? I’ll give you both a position player and a pitcher. Trevor Williams and Elias Diaz.

Williams, since joining the Pirates last May, owns a 3.62 ERA and a 4.07 FIP in 51 starts. He has really put it together this season by posting a 3.30 ERA in 26 starts. I would bet a large sum of money that no one would know that Williams, based on ERA, is currently a top-10 starting pitcher in the National League.

Francisco Cervelli remains the team’s starting catcher, but Diaz is being groomed to replace Cervelli following next season. Diaz is showing why he was formerly a top prospect for the Pirates.

Diaz is slashing .286/.337/.453/.790 with a 1.9 fWAR in 71 games this season. On top of being an above-average hitter, Diaz also possesses a cannon, throwing out would-be bases stealers at an above-average rate.

4. Jameson Taillon seems to be getting overlooked this season. Has he been the best player on this year’s Pittsburgh team? Absolutely. Jamo is turning into one of the best starting pitchers in the National League.

On May 22nd, against the Cincinnati Reds, ironically enough, Taillon began to throw a slider. Since then he owns a 3.25 ERA, 3.26 FIP, and a 23% strikeout rate in 18 starts. He took some lumps along the way, but Jamo is starting to show why he was taken second overall in 2010.

Looking into the future, Taillon, Williams, Chris Archer, and Joe Musgrove should give the Pirates a great starting rotation going forward.

5. What is the most glaring need for the Pirates heading into the offseason? They need to add some offense. As I said earlier, their pitching staff should be excellent, but question marks still surround this team’s offense.

Outside of Gregory Blanco, Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, and the catching duo, this offense is littered with below-average hitters. The two biggest problems are shortstop and second base. Colin Moran has shown flashes at third base this season and deserves another season to develop.

Next. Lorenzen slammed the door on the Cardinals

Josh Bell nearly won Rookie of the Year in 2017 before suffering through his sophomore slump this season. So, both Moran and Bell deserve another year to see if they can figure it out. But shortstop and second base are still massive question marks for this team in 2019.