After a series victory in San Diego, the Pittsburgh Pirates struggled mightily against one of the top teams in the National League West.
This past week was most certainly one the Pirates would like to put behind them as they were swept in a three game set by the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
The less than stellar series came following a pair of series wins for the Bucs, who were unable to take advantage of any type of positive momentum they might have had entering the three game set.
There were plenty of intriguing storylines and performances, so lets dive right into the top stories from the week that was in Pirates baseball.
Lopsided series with dodgers
The Bucs didn’t just suffer a three game sweep at the hands of one of the best teams in a talented NL West division.
They were absolutely manhandled as they were outscored, 31-8, through three games.
The series started with a 17-1 loss to the Dodgers in which Nick Kingham, Tanner Anderson and Steven Brault each allowed four or more runs. Kingham, who started the game, allowing seven runs (five earned) on eight hits in three innings. He walked three and struck out a pair while surrendering three home runs.
The Dodgers compiled 21 hits and had six players with multi-hit games. Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor each had three hits and combined to drive in six runs while Matt Kemp was unstoppable at the dish, going 5 for 5 with a home run, four RBIs and four runs scored.
L.A. continued to rake in game two, hitting six home runs in an 8-3 victory. Five of the home runs hit were off Pirates starter Ivan Nova who allowed seven runs on nine hits in five innings.
Chris Taylor picked up another three hit game as did Max Muncy, who homered for a second straight night. Muncy had two home runs in game two.
The Pirates held a 2-1 lead early in game three, but it didn’t last long. Chris Taylor continued his dominance with another multi-hit game. Taylor and Yasmani Grandal each drove in three runs to provide all the run support Rich Hill and the Dodgers needed.
L.A. made the job difficult for Clay Holmes who made his first career major league start. Holmes threw over 30 pitches in the first inning, walking three and allowing an RBI single to Grandal. He allowed four runs on five hits in 2.1 innings.
Diaz taking advantage of opportunity
The 27-year-old backstop hasn’t disappointed.
In 12 games as the starter in Cervelli’s absence, Diaz has done nothing but hit, picking up at least one base knock in nine games and compiling multiple hits in four.
Diaz, who is hitting .320 over his last seven games, served as one of the lone bright spots over the last week, batting .429 (6 for 14) with two home runs and three RBIs. Diaz also added three doubles and scored four runs in that span.
Like Cervelli, Diaz has put up big numbers this season. He’s hitting just above .300 and has seven home runs while driving in 22 runs in 136 at-bats.
When in the lineup, Diaz has proven to be a vital asset at the dish while there is room for improvement behind the plate. His stellar play was noticeable when he was getting occasional starts backing up Cervelli, but it’s even more evident now that he’s getting an opportunity to start. And he isn’t letting that chance go to waste.
Injuries piling up
As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Pirates, injuries are starting to pile up within their pitching staff.
In addition to Cervelli and Sean Rodriguez being on the DL, the Bucs also had to place starting pitchers Chad Kuhl (forearm strain) and Joe Musgrove (right index finger infection) on the shelf along with reliever Michael Feliz (right shoulder inflammation).
This puts the Pirates in a difficult position at a time when nothing is going right.
Kuhl was replaced in the rotation by Kingham, but Musgrove’s absence leaves a big void. While Holmes was able to make a start during the series in Los Angeles, he isn’t exactly suited for a role as a starter.
That leaves the team with a rotation that currently consists of Nova, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Kingham. The Pirates will have to figure out what to do with that fifth spot in the rotation for the time being as Holmes might not be the answer.
Both Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow have experience as starters, but both have had their fair share of struggles in the role. Despite their less than ideal numbers as starting pitchers, I see either Brault or Glasnow being the best options to fill the fifth starter spot until either Musgrove or Kuhl returns.