Consistent Pittsburgh Pirates' Lineup Pays Dividends

Photo obtained from ESPN.com

While the infusion of Oneil Cruz and Bligh Madris as certainly helped the Pirates offensively, so has a consistent lineup.

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For what felt like the first time all season, the Pittsburgh Pirates rolled out the same lineup two games in a row.  Aside from the catcher position, which at this point seems relatively interchangeable for the Pirates, we saw every position player in their same spot in the field and lineup on both Monday and Tuesday night.  And it worked to the tune of a 12-1 victory on Monday night followed by a 7-1 victory last night, both against the Chicago Cubs.  

Now, obviously the injection of rookies Oneil Cruz and Bligh Madris have had a lot to do with the recent outburst of offense.  However, typically what we have seen this season is that after a rookie makes their debut, in this case Cruz's 2022 debut and Madris' MLB debut on Monday night, they sit the next day.  Or they were never given the initial start in the first place, serving as a bench player their first game up.  Instead, we got to see Cruz and Madris play both games they have been up for thus far.  

Cruz and Madris were involved in 12 of the 19 runs across Monday and Tuesday.  However, we also saw Daniel Vogelbach break out for four hits and four RBI, Bryan Reynolds with three hits, and even both catchers getting in on the action.  Tyler Heinemen had an RBI double Monday, and Michael Perez had a solo homerun last night.  

The only Pirate hitters who went hitless across the two games were Michael Chavis and Hoy Park.  However, Park collected two RBI on Monday while Chavis walked three times and accounted for two runs scored.  No Pirate hitter across the two games stayed completely off the stat sheet.

Maybe simply appearing on the stat sheet and getting a few hits across two games would not be notable for most teams.  However, less than a week ago this looked like a Pirates team who was in danger of getting no-hit on any given night.  After recording only one hit on June 14th against St. Louis Cardinal Miles Mikolas, the Pirates only recorded two hits against Carlos Rodon at home against the San Francisco Giants last Friday.  This came just a little over a month after the Pirates were no-hit by the Cincinnati Reds, albeit winning the game in the process.

So for all intents and purposes this was not a good hitting team.  Most likely, despite the 19 runs in two games, this still isn't a good hitting team.  However, we see just in two games what a consistent lineup can do for a team.

It's been extremely frustrating all season to see a Pirates hitter have a great game, and then be sat down the next day.  I know it goes way beyond manager Derek Shelton making the lineup card each day.  Most of the lineups are set days in advanced and off days are scheduled weeks in advanced.  However, there is something to be said for riding the hot hand, or hands in this case.  

Unfortunately the Pirates are in the middle of a 17-day stretch without an off day.  The Pirates last off day was June 16th and we won't have another one until July 4th.  So there will be time off schedule for everyone during this stretch.

Instead of sporadically scheduling these off days, leading to different lineups each day, I would implore the Pirates to give several players a day off all in the same game.  Maybe even all of the players expected to stay consistently in this lineup.  That way, sure the Pirates may drop that game handily, but the lineup stays relatively consistent across all of the other games in this stretch.  

Successful teams keep consistent lineups.  I understand the desire to try every combination of lineup earlier this season as all of these newcomers settled in after injuries led to their callups.  However, now is the time to see what this team and these players can do with a more consistent.  A new lineup every single game is not the correct course anymore.

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