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Pirates Performers to Watch: Lots of Long Balls, Poor Pitching



Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates continue to prepare for the 2024 regular season, with a number of key contributors enjoying an excellent week of spring training… and others leaving plenty on the table. Oneil Cruz and Andrew McCutchen both hit their first home runs since returning from injuries suffered last season, while a shaky starting rotation continues to plague the club. Here’s a look at the noteworthy performances, both good and bad, for the Pirates last week.

  • Although the Pirates designated him for assignment earlier this offseason before bringing him back into the fold as a waiver claim, Canaan Smith-Njigba has made a solid case for a permanent roster spot. After a rough start to the spring, the burly outfielder is batting .250 with three home runs since March 4.
  • Jared Triolo continues to find a way to get on base, batting .364 along with excellent defense. 
  • Henry Davis hit two home runs in three games, showing his defensive development as he continues to get the majority of reps at catcher with Yasmani Grandal sidelined.
  • Andrew McCutchen played his first two games since suffering an Achilles injury last September, hitting a homer and a single in five at-bats.
  • After going 0-for-3 against Toronto, Ke’Bryan Hayes singled, homered and walked against Minnesota in Friday’s split-squad matchup.
  • Bryan Reynolds’ trouble at the plate continued, as he went 0-for-8 with two walks.
  • Liover Peguero’s bat continued to heat up, homered and pushed his slash line to .333/429/.556.
  • Oneil Cruz played in one contest, hitting his first homer since returning from ankle surgery.

Streaky Pitching Continues 

Pitching remains a problem for the Pirates, as their record sits at an ugly 6-8 despite leading the Major Leagues in spring training home runs. The absence of stalwarts like David Bednar doesn’t help matters—and the team’s prospects have largely fared well—but most of the big league arms leave much to be desired.

  • The Orioles tagged Pirates’ ace Mitch Keller for three runs (one via the long ball) in four innings of work on March 6.
  • Luis Ortiz got through three scoreless frames on March 4, then allowed his first three earned runs of the season in a shaky appearance against the Tigers on Saturday.
  • Colin Holderman still hasn’t returned to form after a difficult finish to 2023. The right-hander’s ERA sits at 16.88—albeit in 2.2 innings pitched—after he allowed a three-run homer to Keston Hiura on Saturday.
  • Control remains an issue for Roansy Contreras, who hung a slider to Trevor Larnach that resulted in one of three runs allowed on Friday.
  • Martín Pérez shoved against the Twins, allowing just one hit in four innings and cutting his ERA to 1.29.
  • Marco Gonzales allowed two earned runs in 3.1 innings against the Braves, although an Alika Williams error didn’t help his case.
  • Colin Selby allowed a two-run homer in one inning of work this week, elevating his ERA to 15.00.
  • Bailey Falter gave up two runs in two innings against the Blue Jays.

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