Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Pirates’ Ship Sunk But Salvageable

Of all that conspired to derail the Pirates after three consecutive trips to the playoffs, the unanticipated implosions of Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano proved, in retrospect, to be more of a deal-breaker than anything else.

It ended in an appropriate fashion, with another loss to the Cubs, with a little bottom-of-the-ninth push-back that wasn't quite enough.

Lower the Jolly Roger.

At least no video circulated of Sean Rodriguez pummeling a Gatorade cooler this time.

If you missed all that transpired from April 3 through Monday night’s 12-2 loss to Chicago, Tuesday night’s subsequent 6-4, fate-securing setback was sufficient in terms of catching you up on the 2016 Pirates.

Not enough starting pitching.

Not enough success at the plate with runners in scoring position.

Another costly error.

All of that, coupled with San Francisco’s 12-3 victory over Colorado a couple of hours later, officially eliminated the Bucs from postseason competition.

Now what?

The established protocol under manager Clint Hurdle in such situations is to shower it off and go get ’em tomorrow (or, in this specific instance, next season).

That’ll take some scrubbing, but it’s nothing that can’t get done eventually.

It didn’t this season mostly because of the pitching in general and the starting pitching in particular.

Of all that conspired to derail the Pirates after three consecutive trips to the playoffs, the unanticipated implosions of Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano proved, in retrospect, to be more of a deal-breaker than anything else.

You can shower off losses all you want; it’s tough to overcome sub.-.500, shortened seasons from your top two starters.

The annual shuffling of personnel from one season to the next didn’t work out as anticipated, either, not that it was a total disaster (Jon Niese was, but David Freese wasn’t).

The Pirates had also used a franchise-record 55 players through game No. 157, which means too many of them were either too often injured or too often ineffective or both.

But it still comes down to the mound.

Given the Pirates’ self-imposed payroll limitations, solving that won’t be as easy as writing a couple of checks at the winter meetings.

Given the Pirates’ self-imposed payroll limitations, they’ll have to do it the hard way again heading into 2017.

Photo by Dave Arrigo, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Pirates


At least in Hurdle and in General Manager Neal Huntington, they have a couple of guys who have been there and done that.

As recently as the 2015 season, the Pirates did it to the tune of winning 98 games.

That team wasn’t able to make it past Jake Arrieta in the National League Wild Card Game, but it was still the best team in Major League Baseball’s regular season not named the St. Louis Cardinals.

And if you can be that, anything can happen.

The Pirates have a significant core in place with which to resume contending, players that are either ready to assume prominent roles as contributors (Josh Bell), players that are progressing toward topping out as perennial All-Stars (Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco), and players who can be expected to have better seasons if they can either stay healthier or bounce back from uncharacteristic struggles next season (Jung Ho Kang, Francisco Cervelli, Andrew McCutchen).

That wasn’t a window that slammed shut on Tuesday night, it was a door.

The key to unlocking it again remains the starting rotation.

That makes Hurdle and Huntington’s starting point in building for the 2017 season as obvious as the 2016 season was flawed.

Hope that Cole does a whole lot better than 7-10 and that Jameson Taillon does a whole lot better than 6-11 with an ERA in the mid-5.00s (Liriano’s contribution in his abbreviated final season with the Pirates) and go from there.



Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Drink Like the French on Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Why and where to celebrate on Thursday, which marks the annual release of the young wine.

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

We should be relieved that the tech giant opted not to move in.

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

Instead of one city, the giant retailer is splitting its second headquarters between northern Virginia and New York City.

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.

New Restaurants That Opened in October in Pittsburgh

A tasting menu restaurant, Brazilian cuisine and new sandwich spot are among the offerings.

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.

The 400-Word Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy shines in an unconventional tale.

How to Plan Your Light Up Night Like a Pro

We've got a few tried and tested ways to enjoy the start of the holiday season without giving yourself a stress headache.

Just Films Series Opens Big Conversations

The screening series will next week feature "Served Like a Girl," about the lives of female veterans in the United States.

The 400-Word Review: Outlaw King

In Netflix's historical epic, Braveheart gets another chapter (and an upgrade).

More than $2 Million Raised in the Wake of Tree of Life Tragedy

The Tree of Life shooting shook the Pittsburgh community — but its reverberations reached way past city limits. Donors near and far have shown their support in a variety of campaigns and fundraisers.

"Gone With The Wind" Makes its 81-Year Return

Howard Schweitzer grants his late mother’s wish in returning a book to the Carrick library she checked out in 1937.

See What Pittsburgh’s Restaurant Industry is Doing for Tree of Life Victims

The city’s chefs, bartenders and food truck operators all have organized fundraisers that will take place in the next few weeks.

The Clarks Cover Elvis Costello for Tree of Life

The band’s cover of “Peace, Love and Understanding” will benefit victims of the shooting.