Reds vs Pirates: Pitching preview, prediction and more

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 4
Next
Mitch Keller (#23) speaks with Michael Perez (#5) of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – APRIL 04: Mitch Keller (#23) speaks with Michael Perez (#5) of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

It’s doubtful Reds’ fans will even recognize this Pirates team.

There’s no way to be subtle about it; the Pirates were terrible last year, and over the winter, general manager Ben Cherington traded two of the club’s more recognizable faces in former All-Star first baseman Josh Bell and oft-injured starting pitcher Jameson Taillon.

Throughout the 2020 season, the Pirates were one of the worst hitting teams in the senior circuit. Their .220 team batting average only bested the Cincinnati Reds .212 mark in the National League.  However, they were the worst in the league with a .284 on-base percentage and a .357 slugging rate.

Infielder Colin Moran led the club last year with 10 homers, and his 23 RBIs equaled that of second baseman Adam Frazier for top honors. Pittsburgh failed to have one of their everyday players  hit above .248, with outfielders Gregory Polanco and Bryan Reynolds failing to reach the Mendoza line.

In the Pirates lineup, the one bright spot and hope for the future is rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes who slashed .376/.442/.682 over 95 at-bats in 24 games last year. Unfortunately, Hayes was added to the 10-day injured list yesterday with left wrist inflammation and will miss the series at Great American Ball Park.

It appears offensive woes could continue into the 2021 campaign as the Bucs scored only nine runs during their opening three-game set against the Cubs. Putting the ball in play was an issue in Chicago as Pittsburgh hitters whiffed 29 times over 27 innings.

The Reds must show patience at the plate vs. the Pirates.

The pitching mound proved to be a struggle as well for the 2020 edition of the Pirates. Their team ERA of 4.68 was just below the NL average of 4.47, which is impressive considering Bucs hurlers couldn’t find the strike zone with a map.

Pittsburgh’s 249 free passes issued last season were the most in the league. Additionally, their six saves were the fewest of any National League bullpen. If this past weekend in the Windy City was any indication, free passes will be a problem in 2021 as well.

Pirate pitching issued 15 walks to Cubs hitters during their three-game series, including seven in yesterday’s 4-3 defeat. It’s paramount Reds hitters show patience in their approach over the next three days.

It’s going to be an incredibly long summer for Pittsburgh fans, but there is hope for the future. According to MLB.com, the Pirates enter the season with the eight best farm system in the game. It may be a while until competitive baseball returns to PNC Bank, but hope is all Pirate fans have at this point.