This Pittsburgh Pirates Team has 2012 Vibes

Photo credit: John McCoy/Associated Press

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Yes, it was just one series.  I know that it was just one road trip.  Also, I follow the standings and clearly see the Pirates are still eight games back in the NL Central, five games back of a wild card spot, and five games below .500.

However, you have to admit, this Pittsburgh Pirates team has a buzz about it.  To me, it feels similar to the buzz around the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates.  Now, that team started off very hot and had a monumental meltdown to end the season.  So just flip it.  This year's team, hopefully, has its worst days behind them.

The Pirates are coming off a 4-2 West Coast road trip and their first sweep since August 2020.  They did this against two of the best teams in the National League in the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers.  It was the first time the Pirates have swept the Dodgers since the year 2000.

However, it's not just the way in which the Pirates are winning, but it's with whom they are winning with.  I wrote a blog in the middle of May that the Pirates losing with the players they had rostered was an injustice to the fan base.  Since then, they've promoted several prospect hitters and pitchers that are bringing talent and renewed energy to this roster.  

Diego Castillo has been in Pittsburgh, but Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Cal Mitchell, Tucupita Marcano, Roansy Contreras, Yerry De Los Santos, Tyler Heineman, and Yu Chang are all new and young faces.  It took some injuries to Kevin Newman, Daniel Vogelbach, Ben Gamel, Josh Van Meter, and Yoshi Tsutsugo to get them here, but the swagger and the energy they bring is noticeable and familiar.  It reminds me of the 2012 season.

There will be some growing pains.  Similar to 2012, Castro makes baserunning blunders like Starling Marte, who was a rookie at the time.  The pitching still needs some pieces like it did when Erik Bedard, Wandy Rodriguez, and Kevin Correia were taking the mound in 2012.  However, the young, unpolished, talent, and the picture of success they hope to bring is becoming clearer.  Just like it was then before a run of three straight postseason berths.

There are also some veterans showing they have what it takes to build a team around and/or influence some youngsters in a positive way.  Bryan Reynolds is beginning to find his form again after a brutal start to the season.  Having our All-Star in centerfield feels all too familiar, no? Michael Chavis at just 26 years old is also earning himself an extension.  And among this team even Ke'Bryan Hayes can be seen as a veteran.  

All this team needs is some polish and some experience.  Plus, when Vogelbach and Gamel do return, they add more than they detract.  I also see similarities in the grit and electricity that Jason Grilli used to bring to the closer role in David Bednar.

So sure, this team probably will not make the playoffs.  They may also have equally brutal stretches as it did in both April and May.  However, it's hard to not be more excited about this team as it stands right now than it did at the beginning of May.  And maybe, just maybe, this season falls just one season before the Pirates start a legitimate stretch of playoff-caliber baseball again, just like it did in 2012.

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