2024 Pittsburgh Pirates

From BR Bullpen

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2024 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page[edit]

Record: , Finished in NL Central Division (2024 NL)

Managed by Derek Shelton

Coaches: Tarrik Brock, Radley Haddad, Andy Haines, Don Kelly, Mendy Lopez, Oscar Marin, Christian Marrero, Justin Meccage and Mike Rabelo

Ballpark: PNC Park

History, Comments, Contributions[edit]

The 2024 Pittsburgh Pirates were coming off a 2023 season in which they had made a fair bit of progress from 2022, but there was still quite a ways to go and many questions remaining. How would Oneil Cruz, one of the game's most intriguing young players, perform after missing almost all of '23? Would former #1 overall pick Henry Davis be ready to catch - and hit - in the majors? Or would their alternate pick-up, Yasmani Grandal, show that his best years were not behind him? Who would fill the second base spot that was fought over in 2023, with many of the same contenders back (Liover Peguero, Nick Gonzales, Ji-hwan Bae and Jared Triolo)? Would free agent signee Rowdy Tellez provide the power he showed in 2022 or struggle like he had in '23? Would fellow offseason acquisition Edward Olivares or Josh Palacios start in right field?

The rest of the offense seemed somewhat more set. 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes seemed to be coming off a breakthrough year at the plate in addition to finally winning a much-anticipated Gold Glove. DH Andrew McCutchen and LF Bryan Reynolds, two of the team's veteran leaders, had still hit well in 2023 and there was hope they could keep it up, while CF Jack Suwinski was still young and coming off a very good season. Connor Joe was expected to be a solid bench presence at first base and in the outfield.

The starting rotation was also loaded with questions after Johan Oviedo was sidelined with an injury. It was expected that free agent signees Marco Gonzales and Martín Pérez would complement ace Mitch Keller (assuming he kept his 2023 form and did not regress), but the 4th and 5th spots were open entering spring training with young hurlers Roansy Contreras, Luis Ortiz and Quinn Priester trying to bounce back from disappointing showings, and fellow youngsters Jared Jones and Paul Skenes possibly looming as options as well as veterans Chase Anderson and Bailey Falter; also, J.T. Brubaker was to return at some point from Tommy John surgery.

The bullpen seemed more reliable, with returning All-Star closer David Bednar and a cast of relievers who had fine 2023 seasons (Colin Holderman, Carmen Mlodzinski, Ryan Borucki) plus high-price signee Aroldis Chapman, still one of the game's hardest throwers, and still dominant at times.

Late in spring training, the team shook up the outfield picture by signing Michael A. Taylor to start in center, moving Suwinski to the corner alongside Reynolds and knocking Oliveras and Palacios from starting contention. Davis wound up winning the starting spot at catcher and Triolo the one at second base, while Jones and Falter got the final two rotation spots, Ortiz and Contreras being kept on as relievers with injuries to Holderman and Mlodzinski creating openings in the bullpen.

The Bucs won, 6-5, in 12 innings on Opening Day against the Miami Marlins on March 28th as Reynolds, Oliveras and Cruz all homered and the bullpen allowed one hit in 6 1/3 IP. Ortiz got the win and late addition José Hernández saving it; he was only called up when Contreras went on the paternity leave list. They swept the four-game opening series, their first four-game road sweep to start the season since 1903. They then won two of three games against the Washington Nationals, also on the road to head to Pittsburgh for their home opener on April 5th with a record of 6-1. Suddenly, media outside Pittsburgh were starting to take notice. The Opener was scheduled for a 4:12 pm start, a nod to the city's area code of 412, and something that was becoming a tradition for the Bucs. That hot start quickly faded as they were 14-17 at the end of April, with the starting pitching better than expected but the bullpen disappointing significantly, especially Bednar and Chapman.

Awards and Honors[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Alex Stumpf: "The new Pirates tradition: A 4:12 first pitch in the 412", mlb.com, April 5, 2024. [The new Pirates tradition: A 4:12 first pitch in the 412]
  • Joe Trezza: "'Gritty' Bucs battle to their first 5-0 start since 1983", mlb.com, April 2, 2024. [1]
  • Joe Trezza: "Why Bucs have started ’24 as one of baseball’s hottest teams", mlb.com, April 4, 2024. [2]