Pittsburgh Pirates Wake Up Call: A crapshoot, indeed

In our daily Wake-Up Call, we get you ready for the day with a complete look at all things Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pittsburgh Pirates brass and fans have often heard that the playoffs are a “crapshoot.”

This breezy term was used to explain away the Pirates’ last two postseason appearances, both of the one and done variety. However, last night this philosophy was on full display.

The New York Yankees beat the 102-win Cleveland Indians three games to two in the ALDS last night, perhaps proving — or at least, giving credence to — the “crapshoot” theory. By all accounts, the Indians were the better team during the regular season.

Or, were they? A quick check at 2017 team data shows that Indians’ hitters put up 27.3 fWAR, while the Yanks’ bats put up 27.9 In pitching, Cleveland had an edge at 31.7 fWAR — best in the AL — but New York came in second at 24.4 fWAR.

The only clearcut differentiation between the two club were the inherently faulty win totals. Cleveland won 102. The Yankees won 91. Of course, the Indians’ win total was carried by their 22 game win streak during the season. However despite those 11 more wins, the Indians were more evenly matched with the Yankees than one might think going into the postseason.

in the end, it took two poor starts by all-world starter Corey Kluber for the Yankees to advance to the ALCS. To be sure, the New York bats did their job against Kluber, but who would have predicted not one but TWO clunkers from the perennial Cy Young candidate?

No one. That’s who.

And that is why the MLB playoffs are undoubtedly a crapshoot.

Fire from a GM?

The other big story in baseball yesterday centered around Stephen Strasburg.

Having declared himself too sick to make his start the day prior, Strasburg rebounded and started after all. He turned in a marvelous performance, striking out 12 over seven strong innings.

But one under-reported facet of this story was the fire with which Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo spoke in regards to the unusual situation. Speaking to the Sports Junkies on 106.7 the fan in DC yesterday morning, Rizzo towed the standard “GM speak” line until, finally, he could no longer hide his disdain for the topic. (The fireworks start at 3:25)



Of course, this was all for naught, as Strasburg recovered to make the start, but count me as a fan of Mike Rizzo’s after hearing this exchange. The Nats’ GM spoke honestly and passionately. For a few minutes, the curtain came down and some honest-to-goodness fire came through.

Contrast that to Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington, who famously plays things close to the vest. While Huntington has never said anything publicly that could be considered untruthful, there always seems to be a certain level of detachment when he speaks about his team, or moves he has made. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps it is better for such a front-facing executive to not be so forthcoming.

However, I would be willing to wager that many Pittsburgh Pirates fans would welcome some fire like this from their GM every now and again.

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Jason Rollison

Jason Rollison has been analyzing baseball and the Pirates in one way or another for 4+ years. Jason's previous stops include rumbunter.com, Pittsburgh Sporting News, Call To The Pen and several print publications. He also covers the State College Spikes for the Centre County Gazette (State College, PA) When it comes to analyzing baseball, he likes to take a middle-of-the-road approach, with one foot on the analytics side of the fence and the other on the old-school side. Having said that, he is a sucker for pitchf/x. Jason has appeared as a phone-in and in-studio guests in numerous outlets, including Trib Live Radio and 93.7 The Fan (CBS Sports Radio)