The Pittsburgh Pirates are 5-2 after their win Monday at Detroit.
After the first week of the baseball season, the Pirates are off to one of the best starts in recent memory. A new offensive approach and continued dominant pitching have the Pirates picking up where they left off last season.
And a lot of it has to do with the offseason moves. Once again, Neal Huntingdon is the smartest person in the room ( at least for now). He had many of us scratching our heads with some of the trades, cuts and signings to the roster. But through the first week of the season, the Pirates may be better than ever.
The addition of John Jaso was a move I was skeptical about from the beginning. Though he was known as a great on base guy, his career two games at first base had me concerned. Dealing with the ill-performances of Pedro Alvarez last year, I did not known if I would be able to handle another error filled season at the position. But so far, so good for Jaso. He has yet to record an error in 46 chances at first. In the leadoff spot, Jaso has not disappointed, hitting .321 with a .375 OBP.
David Freese and Matt Joyce are still finding their way into the Pirates offense. Despite hitting .269 through the first week, Freese leads the team in strikeouts with 11 and was given the day off vs the Tigers. Joyce got his first start of the season at DH in Detroit and delivered his first hit since last July as an Angel.
More from Pittsburgh Pirates
- Pittsburgh Pirates: A Look Back at 2019
- Pirates: Hiring Don Kelly Yet Another Smart Offseason Move
- Pirates’ Solid Offseason Continues with Hiring of Derek Shelton
- Pirates: Derek Shelton Makes Most Sense As Next Manager
- Pirates: Drew Smyly Makes Sense as Potential High-Reward Signing
The real differences makers from the team’s offseason moves are from the pitching staff. Jonathan Niese earned his first win of the year against the Tigers, going six innings allowing four runs. His seven runs given up in 2 starts is troubling, but Niese has struck out 13 batters and battled in each of his starts against good offensive clubs. Neftali Feliz has given the Pirates another weapon in an already deep, experienced bullpen. He has yet to yield a run in five appearances with six strikeouts and three holds. A dominate right hander to go along with Tony Watson gives Clint Hurdle some great options at the end of the game.
Then there’s Juan Nicasio, who did not disappoint in this first start of the season. He gave up one run, a solo shot, and only two hits in his outing vs the Cardinals. What was even more promising about Nicasio’s start was he struck out seven batters and did not walk anyone. His next start is Tuesday at Detroit, which will be another tough test.
From his two innings of work Friday, the only positive you could take away from Ryan Vogelsong’s appearance was his vulturing of the W. Another than that, Vogelsong looked extremely rusty. Hopefully he can adapt to his new role as a long reliever. Kyle Lobstein has also struggled a bit while Corey Luebke has looked decent in his first appearances since Tommy John surgery.
I would not give Huntingdon the general manager of the year award just yet, but he has once again proven he knows how to construct a winning baseball team.