By Jared Lankes
The Pirates are mired in an early season slump to the likes of which Pirates fans should be used to by now. They have recently accomplished the rare feat of getting swept twice in two days technically (swept by Reds, lost makeup game in Boston to complete that sweep). The only wins so far have come against the likely cellar-dwellers of the NL, the Braves, in still competitive games.
I can see why people are angry after seeing last year’s underachievement from the Pirates and expecting to see better this season. However, things don’t always start the way you envision them to. Overall, this Pirates team has, admittedly, not looked at all how they should, but there are certainly things to point out that make it seem as if this team can still do just fine.
1) It’s (really) early: A baseball season is 162 games; the Pirates have played 9. Given in percentage form, they have only played roughly 5.5% of their games. In another perspective, the percentage of games the Pirates have played so far is a lesser percentage than 1 game in an NFL season (1 game = about 6.25% of the season). In comparison to the NFL, the Pirates have literally not played a full game yet. The MLB season is long and you have to let it simmer a bit. Wait until late-May or early-June to make judgement.
2) Previous examples: Throughout history, poor starts have meant little. The biggest one in recent memory being Giants starting 4-10 and eventually winning it all. As for the Pirates, poor starts in 2014 and 2015 particularly didn’t keep them from achieving postseason status and, in 2015, the second most wins in the league even. Every year, the standings in April and May look like garbage and nothing like they look in July, August, or September.
3) Schedule gets easier: Its no secret the Pirates schedule was loaded in April. Started with the Red Sox in Fenway, facing the Yankees at home, and throw the Cubs in there twice as well. After April, the strength of schedule gets easier. They still have to go out and win the games, but there’s no reason to think that they can’t win 17 or 18 games in at least one of these months if they perform to their potential.
4) Stats: Pirates have been the kings of bad BABIP so far (basically hitting the ball hard but right at people) and their RISP numbers have been well-below where any team can ever be. As for pitching, many of those numbers that aren’t looking inspiring right now will eventually work itself out as usual as well. It’s easy so see that these downward numbers will eventually rebound back to where it should be, and when that does occur, the Pirates could reel off a nice stretch of games with a good bit of wins being threaded together.
5) It’s literally only 3-6: Yes, it’s just what it sounds. It’s literally only 3-6. Every team goes through stretches like this, some teams even get it worse than that. If this happens in July or August, there maybe some level of concern by some, but since it’s at the outset of the season, it’s majorly overblown.
Let’s get real here guys, it’s nine games. There really isn’t too much to get worked up over quite yet. So, relax on the “fire everyone and sell the team” talk because it’s just lost breath and probably an argument that won’t be relevant in a month anyways. The best thing to do is just let the season actually get rolling and then make major judgements as we get around the 70 game mark. This MLB season will have so many twists and turns that it is best to not worked up too badly this early in the process.