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The Cardinals should destroy the Pirates - no they really should

The Pirates are not a good baseball team

Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

What is there to say about the Pirates that Pirates fans haven’t already said themselves? If I may be so lazy, here’s a sampling from the series preview that Bucs Dugout did from some commenters:

“tonight’s game will be over by the end of the 2nd inning, as I doubt Chef Keller will be doing anything but serving up fat meatballs.

Saturday’s game? Predict Peters Polymorphs into Pumpkin Post-Haste.

For the last game of the series, we’ll get the Sunday line-up, not that it’s indistinguishable from the every day line-up, and that, coupled with the complete ownership of the Pirates that Adam Wainwright has, should be enough to spell “S-W-E-E-P” and send the Bucs home with 80 losses and damn near a .333 winning percentage.” - Bishop1973

“Sheltie and his coaching staff are great motivators. He should be able to hold these games down to 6 run losses each. This team won’t win 50 games.” - 1979 Pirates

“I’m way too optimistic on the Pirates. Last year, I predicted 23 wins, and they only got 19. This year, I said 64; looks pretty doubtful at this point. Going to have to quit drinking the Kool-Aid.” - Ernie H

I mean really how can I compete with that?

The Pirates have three above average hitting regulars

Bryan Reynolds is by far the Pirates’ best player, with a 145 wRC+. But you probably know about him, since he made the All-Star game as a starter earlier this year. His teammate who also made the All-Star team as a starter has since departed. Adam Frazier has a 58 wRC+ with the Padres so thank you Adam Frazier for helping the Cards.

Aside from him, there’s the barely above average line of Colin Moran, who is not a good player because he plays 1B and is not a good defender either. Then there’s the barely average line of Ben Gamel, claimed off waivers early this year, whose 102 wRC+ is not particularly impressive since he plays an average corner outfield.

But neither Gamel or Moran hold the distinction of being the second or third best players. That goes to the elite defender Ke’Bryan Hayes, currently sporting a 93 wRC+, and Jacob Stallings, currently with a 91 wRC+. Both would fit right in with the Cardinals lineup, deriving most of their value not from their bat but from their gloves.

So three above average hitters, three good players in this Pirates lineup total.

They have a bad bullpen

Sometimes when you play bad teams, the randomness of bullpens works in their favor. That is not the case with the Pirates, who near as I can tell, have one good reliever, David Bednar. Duane Underwood Jr and Chris Stratton are okay, certainly the type of pitchers you want in a bullpen, but ideally the back half. Former Cardinal Chasen Shreve has a 2.90 ERA, but also a 4.90 FIP, 4.24 xERA, 4.97 SIERA, and 5.30 xFIP. So not a ton different than what he gave the Cardinals from an advanced stat perspective.

Anthony Banda has a 6.02 FIP, Kyle Keller a 7.92 FIP, Nick Mears a 5.79 FIP, and Luis Oviedo a 5.97 FIP. Mears is the only one of that list with decent, but not spectacular advanced stats if you take home run luck into account. Just a truly dreadful looking bullpen here. To be fair, they did trade Richard Rodriguez and Clay Holmes, but those two guys weren’t that great either. Better than the names at the top of this paragraph though.


Mitch Keller (6.86 ERA, 4.77 FIP, 5.12 xFIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (2.25 ERA/3.18 FIP/4.95 xFIP)

Mikolas’ numbers are obviously from one start only, but it was a good four innings we got. Ideally, he can stay healthy the rest of the year. For now, let’s hope he gets through this start healthy. Cards wanted him to face a not particularly good lineup and the Pirates have a not particularly good lineup.

On the Pirates’ side, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with Keller. He had really good advanced stats his rookie year in 11 starts, but a 7.13 ERA to show for it. Last year he had a good ERA with really bad advanced stats. This year, his ERA is worse than his still bad advanced stats. He’s still just 25. But I don’t know, he looked pretty promising two years ago, just seems to not have improved much.

Favorite: Lizard King

Dillon Peters (1.93 ERA/3.82 FIP/6.48 xFIP) vs. J.A. Happ (6.03 ERA/5.27 FIP/5.30 xFIP)

Peters is a 28-year-old journeyman starter who hasn’t been able to figure out the majors. Those numbers above are from his only start of the year and the only innings he’s pitched in the majors, after the Pirates purchased him from the Angels. In the minors, he’s pitched 53 innings, shown a propensity for striking out a lot and getting absolutely rocked by home runs with 14 home runs allowed in 53 innings. He managed to keep his ERA decent, not so much on the advanced stats.

Since Peters has advanced stats compare to Happ, but in AAA, I’m going to have to give Happ the advantage. Peters is also a lefty, which you surely did not know. Share your best Office Space pun with Happ and Peters cause I can’t conjure one up and I’m running out of time to post this. Here’s your choice quote: “What’s Happ-ening Peter(s)?”

Favorite: Not Lumbergh

Steven Brault (1.84 ERA/3.93 FIP/4.09 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (3.26 ERA/3.72 FIP/3.83 xFIP)

Brault has made three total starts this year if you’re confused as to why his numbers are so good. One of them was against the Cards, a 5 IP, 2 ER effort that ultimately resulted in a Cardinals win. He has just not walked anybody in his starts, including that Cards game, with just 2 walks in 14.2 IP. His ZiPS projected walk rate is 4.69 BB/9 so you know Cards may help him raise that up a little on Sunday.

And if it makes Bishop1973 feel any better, Adam Wainwright has owned most teams this year, so while the Pirates may have problems, Adam Wainwright doing well against you is no mark against the Pirates.

Favorite: Uncle Charlie


Friday: 7:15 CT

Saturday: 6:15 CT

Sunday: 1:15 CT

Pirates want as high a pick as possible and the Cardinals want to make the playoffs so I think a sweep by the Cardinals is the best outcome for everybody involved. So let’s sweep ‘em.