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Pirates Takeaways: Falter’s Bounce-Back, Former Draft Pick Shines, McCutchen Aggressive

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Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — Though the Pittsburgh Pirates fell 2-1 to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night, Bailey Falter returned to form after a couple shaky outings to start June.

Falter has been one of the Pirates’ most surprising storylines to start the season. After somewhat controversially being named the club’s fifth starter out of spring training, he’s been a reliable presence in a starting rotation that features two promising rookies and Mitch Keller, who is vying for his second-straight All-Star nomination.

Through the end of May, Falter had a robust 3.22 ERA through 11 starts of the season after pitching six-shutout innings against the Blue Jays on the final day of the month.

His first two outings in June, however, were nowhere near what he had shown through the first two months of the season. Falter allowed five runs on eight hits in four-plus innings against the Dodgers at PNC Park on June 6 and was tagged for three runs on eight hits in four innings against the Cardinals last week.

Against the Reds on Tuesday, Falter looked like the same pitcher he had been for much of the season.

“It was awesome,” Falter said of his outing. “It felt good to go out there and provide for the team, especially after my last two starts. Those guys have been working for me for a really long time so it felt good to go out there and get the job done.”

Falter allowed a two-run home run to Reds third baseman Santiago Espinal in the fifth inning but that was the lone blemish against him across seven innings. Falter allowed seven hits, walked a pair and struck out three. He needed just 84 pitches to get through his outing.

Pregame, manager Derek Shelton said that Falter’s breaking pitches had not been as effective in his last two starts. The Pirates’ starter got much better results with his curveball and slider against the Reds.

“He was sharp,” said Shelton after the game. “Seven innings, 80 pitches. He gave up the two-run homer that was it. The breaking ball was good, he mixed in the fastball to both sides.”

Through 14 starts on the season, Falter is 3-5 with a 3.74 ERA. Considering the lowly expectations placed upon him at the onset of the season, the Pirates are certainly thrilled with what their de facto fifth starter has given them.

Former Pirates Draft Pick Shoves

The Pirates’ 2016 draft class is largely a forgettable one.

Of the six selections to reach the big leagues with the Pirates from that year’s draft, five have a negative bWAR. The lone player not in the red is right-handed pitcher Blake Cederlind, who has an even 0.0 bWAR.

One player who has had success from that year’s Pirates’ draft class is Nick Lodolo. The Pirates drafted the left-hander out of high school with the 41st pick but Lodolo opted to attend college at TCU.

Three years later, the Reds made Lodolo the seventh pick in the 2019 draft and signed him for just south of $5.5 million.

Lodolo was opposite Falter in Tuesday’s matchup and held the Pirates to one run — a Ke’Bryan Hayes solo home run — in seven innings and struck out eight batters.

The 26-year-old has emerged this season as a quality left-handed pitcher this season and now carries a 2.76 ERA.

“This guy’s one of the best left-handers in the game,” Shelton said of the one-time Pirates’ draftee. “The ability to throw the slider back foot to right-handers and then throw the fastball at 94 95, often to the inner lane of the plate, there’s not too many guys in the game that can do that. That slider is elite.”

Cutch Doubled Off

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Andrew McCutchen was standing on first base after drawing a walk. Bryan Reynolds followed by lining one hard to center, a ball that was caught on the run by Stuart Fairchild.

McCutchen was already in between second and third base when the ball was caught and was retired on a relay play back to first base.

Shelton addressed what happened after the game.

“I think he made an aggressive read thinking that he wasn’t gonna get there and he just got too aggressive on that ball.”

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