Pittsburgh is an underperforming franchise, certainly since those three straight NLCS losses 1990-1992, the last two of which bring a smile to every Braves fan’s face. Sure, they made the playoffs three years in the mid 2010’s, but still.
And it’s not like they haven’t had any good players. They just haven’t had them at the right time. I took every Pirate from 1993 to today and looked at their WAR for the Pirates and their overall WAR. The top 50 such players in overall WAR start with Kenny Lofton (68.4) (starting in 1993 takes Bonds out of the equation) and go down to Dan Plesac (16.9). Of those 50 players, only 11 earned over half their WAR for the Bucs: Brian Giles, Andrew McCutchen, Jason Kendall, Andy van Slyke, Jay Bell, Starling Marte, Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, Zane Smith (!), Neil Walker, Don Slaught. That’s 11 players in a 30 year period. And when you look at the players they got only a part of: they lost Jose Bautista, Tim Wakefield, Gerrit Cole, Jason Schmidt, Jon Lieber, Bronson Arroyo, Esteban Loaiza, Denny Neagle and Neil Walker in their 20’s. Anyone worried about the Braves performance this year, picture yourself as a Pirates fan and tell me how you keep it together.
It is unlikely, though not impossible, that JT Brubaker will one day be Esteban Loaiza. No. Who am I kidding? JT Brubaker will, like his namesake in the Robert Redford movie, find himself frustrated and ousted owing to sinister forces beyond his control. It is also possible that the Pirates team will be stranded in the Andes and Daniel Vogelbach will eat JT Brubaker.
In any case, there is no way that JT Brubaker vs. Max Fried is not a mismatch. I am normally loath to quote Vegas odds, but to win $100 on the Braves tonight, you had to risk $270 After their first three (KeBryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds and Vogelbach) they are not talented, no matter what Chip tells you about Jack Suwinski.)
Back when I was a fan of terrible Braves teams, this was the sort of game in which you could say: “Sure, we lost, but Preston Hanna matched up well with Dave Roberts.” I do not relish remembering those days. In any case, JT Brubaker matched up well with Max Fried. But when all was said and done, and for all that Brubaker did well, this was not a particularly exciting game, even if was the 8th in a row. On the other hand, I have a urologist appointment tomorrow. This was much better than that will be.
“The Pirates are in a difficult division…” No, Chip. They aren’t.
Daniel Vogelbach looks as much like Babe Ruth as Daniel Day-Lewis does. (If you dodn’t watch the game, I’m not going to waste your time and mine explaining this one.)
There is no one with sufficient alcohol capacity to take a shot every tme Brian Jordan says “Aggressive.” Please, Brian. At least find a synonym. I hate the word “proactive,” but a couple of them substituting for “aggressive” would be better. How about a Chip cliche: “ambush mode?” (This is entirely separate from the question of whether Braves hitters should be more aggressive. Looking at you, Ozzie.)