Today we traded questions with Bucs Dugout, our sister site for Pirates fans. Jeremy_Brener was a good sport in answering my questions, which is always appreciated. I answered questions for him as well, and will add the link eventually.
1. How did the offseason go for the Pirates? Any important new faces? Any moves you really liked, or really didn’t?
Obviously trading Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon weakened our rotation, and it isn’t a good sign when the team with the worst record in the league gets worse. However, it’s all part of the rebuild and it has to be done. We’ll be rewarded with Kumar Rocker or Jack Leiter over the summer. The team did pick up Todd Frazier, and he made his Bucs debut yesterday. He’ll likely be a DH at some point during this series.
2. What do you guys think of Derek Shelton so far?
He’s steering the pirate ship in the right direction. He’s got the team one game under .500 when the team had far lower expectations at the beginning of the season. He’s done a lot with a little. We aren’t expecting this to last long, but it’s nice to see a somewhat competitive bunch after last year was a wash.
3. The Pirates have been pretty bad for a few years now. Where is the team at this season, are the still rebuilding, is there a plan? Are they close to competing?
Ben Cherington became the GM in November 2019 and he’s acquiring as many prospects as possible in order to increase his chances of some sticking. It’s going to take a while to accrue a lot of these prospects. The only guy that has locked in a spot on a potential competitor is Ke’Bryan Hayes, but he’s been injured for most of the season so far. Ideally, this team becomes a contender three to five years down the road.
4. Who are a couple players we haven’t heard of that we should watch for the series? What kind of impact might they have?
Phillip Evans has been Ke’Bryan Hayes’ replacement primarily at third. He’s performed better than expected and bats .274 this season. Adam Frazier has also done really well in the leadoff spot. He already has eight multi-hit games this season and he has a hit in nine of his last ten games. If they don’t play well, the team usually doesn’t win. They are the two X-Factors in the series.
5. Tell us about the starting pitchers for this series
JT Brubaker is taking the mound Friday. He’s only given up one run in each start this season. He’s arguably been the most impressive starter this season for the Buccos. I’ll be intrigued to see if he can keep this run going against the Twins, arguably the strongest lineup he’s seen all season.
Trevor Cahill, on the other hand, has struggled this season by giving up six or more runs in two of his three starts. He’s come to the Pirates to be a veteran fifth starter until a prospect is called up later in the season. It’s still early in the year though, so Cahill draws the start. The Pirates offense will need to be hot when he starts.
Chad Kuhl was in Sunday’s spot in the rotation, but he hit the IL today. Perhaps the team will use that day as a bullpen day, move Tyler Anderson up a day, or call up a prospect to pitch Sunday. Still TBD.
6. Anything else you want Twins fans to know?
The Pirates are not the team you think they are. They’re far more of a surprise this season than people think…