DK'S GRIND

Kovacevic: Archer takes control of all he can ☕

The reeling Pirates lost again to the Cardinals, 6-2, Friday night at Busch Stadium, but Chris Archer looked terrific.

The Cardinals' Matt Wieters strokes an RBI single in the fourth inning Friday night in St. Louis. - AP

ST. LOUIS — Fire everyone.

Yeah, the Pirates lost yet again, 6-2 to the Cardinals on this Friday night. This time, it came on Richard Rodriguez giving up his first home run since late May, a late defensive blunder by Kevin Newman and an offense that’s dried up far too soon. And that put this latest losing streak at six games, the record since the All-Star break at 4-22 and the overall record at a season-worst 19 games under .500 at 48-67.

As I was saying: Fire everyone. I mean it. All of them.

And if the franchise’s owner could fire himself, too, there are plenty of folks willing to provide the mirror.

That said, here’s hoping no one minds this rather riveting digression: Chris Archer is, at long last, beginning to look like the pitcher everyone was so pumped to get in that trade.

“That’s how it feels, man. It really does,” he was telling me at his stall after a line of six innings, two runs, seven hits, nine strikeouts and no walks. “I know it’s taken a while, and it’s kind of tough to explain why, but I feel physically just so good right now. And when you feel like that, when you have the kind of stuff that results from that, you feel like you can do anything.”

Flash back two starts ago, to July 28 in New York. He came out “tentative,” to borrow his own term when I asked him about it there, and allowed the Mets to smack him around for six runs in a 48-pitch first inning. After which, even more strikingly, he then put up five zeroes with equivalent pushback.

Now flash back to the first inning of this game. The Cardinals rapped out three hits on his first four pitches. Bases were loaded before the first flip of the resin bag.

Another New York?

Hardly. He locked up Marcell Ozuna for a 6-4-3 that brought home one happily conceded run …

… then smoked 95.5-mph heat past Paul DeJong:

And trust me, neither at-bat was remotely competitive. One of Ozuna’s swings, in particular, was so late he might have been hit with a fee.

Why?

I shared with Archer my observation from above that he appeared to pitch with more conviction, and he took slight exception to that.

“Not this time. This wasn’t New York,” he replied. “I’d say everything from pitch one out here came with conviction. And actually, that started out in the bulllpen, with the way everything was coming out of my hand. I knew I’d have stuff. And I never doubted that through any of those three hits.”

And so, those next two guys never stood a chance?

“That happens sometimes,” he came back with a slight smile.

I hadn’t written this way about Archer since his arrival. But then, I hadn’t seen him consistently pump a fastball at 97 mph, moving it where he wanted, coupled with a revitalized slider that seems to get crisper with each start. I hadn’t seen it this season. I hadn’t seen it last season. I hadn’t seen it anywhere other than footage from his All-Star days with the Rays.

Clint Hurdle sounded a similar note, saying, “It’s something I hadn’t seen very often,” stressing especially the command: Archer threw 19 first-pitch strikes to his 24 batters, reached only three three-ball counts and, to repeat, walked no one.

“Man, was he good,” Hurdle continued. “The swing-and-miss stuff, the fastball command, the slider going to work, and he threw some changeups to left-handed hitters. So solid. Just so solid.”

I could see the visitors’ dugout standing at the edge of the railing for some of Archer’s work, visibly geeked up when he blew 95.4-mph heat by Jose Martinez to quash a rally in the St. Louis fourth.

“It’s energizing,” Hurdle answered my question on that subject. “He can bring that. He’s brought it at times. He’s talked about needing to create that every time he’s out there. Well, he created it tonight and kept it going.”

Mind you, this is hardly some full-blown statistical trend. Since that first inning in New York, he’s pitched very well, with three total runs allowed over 15 innings. But he’s also held opponents to three or fewer runs in five of the six starts before New York.

Again, why?

“It’s hard to say,” he began. “I can say this: My body has felt, the past 6-8 weeks, a lot better than it did the first 6-8 weeks. I don’t know why. I can’t really put my finger on it. … It’s pretty apparent that this is a different person pitching now than the first 6-8 weeks. There’s raw stuff. There’s been execution. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been much better.”

I’ve been critical of Archer. I’ve been terribly critical of the trade. Unapologetically on both counts. Neal Huntington was stripped to the bone by Tampa Bay’s management in giving up Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and first-round pitching prospect Shane Baz for Archer. Experts far and wide have panned it as one of Major League Baseball’s worst trades in recent memory.

But all through that, going to the day of the trade, I’ve also maintained that the Pirates didn’t need to win the trade as much as they needed …

“The best Chris Archer.”

Yeah, I was sharing that very thought with Archer after this game, and he completed the sentence.

“I know that,” he proceeded. “And that’s all I can be. I can go out there and lay it all out there for my team, from the first pitch, and I can keep working to get better. That’s in my control.”

• Rodriguez had been scored upon once in his previous 27 appearances, so, naturally, with how things are going for the Pirates, he was bound to get dragged down, too.

With a 2-2 tie entering the St. Louis eighth, Dexter Fowler welcomed Rodriguez with a double to right and, after an out, scored on Paul Goldschmidt’s grounder through Newman:

Hm. If Newman backhands that and fires across for an out, it’s a strong play. At the very least, he’s got to knock it down. Since neither happened, the Cardinals took the lead.

“It’s a tough play, for sure, when you try to slide on your backhand,” Newman told me. “But I hold myself to a higher standard, and I think I should make that play. I’ve made it before. I should’ve gloved it, and I should’ve made the play.”

Give the kid credit. He knew when I was approaching what I’d ask. Stood there and answered it, chin high. And even when I asked if maybe the ball had taken some unusual bounce — fairly common at that infield depth — he shook his head.

• It felt mostly moot since Rodriguez then elevated way too much to serve up this Ozuna two-run shot to make it 5-2:

• Immensely struggling Josh Bell was sat down the final two games of the series with the Brewers “to rest and observe,” as Hurdle worded it, and he wasn’t all that wild about it. But he also was aware that Hurdle had done something similar with Andrew McCutchen to great results, so he embraced all three free days — including the off-day Thursday in Pittsburgh, when he did little more than walk his dog — and showed up at Busch Stadium absolutely bashing in batting practice.

So when he stepped to the plate for the first time by nightfall and whacked a double over Fowler’s head in center, one eyebrow raised. And when he went oppo the next time up with a double to left, also to the fence, up went the other eyebrow.

He finished 2 for 3 with a walk, marking his first game with multiple extra-base hits since July 3. And it was … something.

Hold the parade. Still no home runs since July 5. When they start sailing out, we’ll talk.

• Mitch Keller will start Monday in Anaheim, Hurdle made known before this game, though that’s not official. This excites me … not in the slightest, and not just because Keller’s three big-league starts to date have been total duds, with 16 runs allowed over 12 innings.

Rather, it’s that his tendency to give up ugly innings has also been common with Class AAA Indianapolis, which is why his healthy 1.16 WHIP is an odd match for his 3.56 ERA. The baserunners come in bunches.

“It’s something we’ve talked about, something we’ve worked on,” Hurdle said. “It’s why he was sent back, because that’s not something you can fix at this level. He needs to find a way to control those innings.”

• Have I mentioned that all of the people responsible for this need to be fired?

Good, because I really don’t want that to get lost.

Fire everyone.

THE ESSENTIALS

• Boxscore
• Video highlights
Scoreboard
• Standings

THE INJURIES

Clay Holmes (10-day IL, triceps)
Gregory Polanco (10-day IL, shoulder)
Francisco Cervelli (60-day IL, concussion)
Jameson Taillon (60-day IL, elbow)
• Rookie Davis (60-day IL, forearm)
Lonnie Chisenhall (60-day IL, remote needs battery)

Here’s the most recent full report.

THE SCHEDULE

Joe Musgrove will try to shake the gopher-ball bug Saturday night — he’s given up 10 home runs in his past six starts, seven in his past three — against Adam Wainright. First pitch is 7:15 p.m. Eastern time. Clubhouse opens to media at 3:45 p.m., and Hurdle will speak shortly thereafter.

THE COVERAGE

All our baseball coverage, including Mound Visit by Jason Rollison, Indy Watch by Matt Welch, and Altoona Watch by Jarrod Prugar, can be found on our team page.

94 Comments

94
Join the discussion

36 Comment threads
58 Thread replies
5 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
51 Comment authors
MMPPensTCcsbadgerCarl Brackenrandyduncan Recent comment authors
  Follow Discussion  
Newest Oldest Most voted
Notify of:
Carl Bracken
Carl Bracken

The Lonnie Chisenhall injury remark is priceless

Mark Izzo
Mark Izzo

Unfortunately I agree fire everyone but nobody will come and work here would u with this owner if us were going to take a job as a new GM or a manager u will ruin your career

scotto
scotto

If this if that. I know what everyone means and I am right with everyone,but it still a loss maybe it will turn around maybe it won’t.

chrisinindy
chrisinindy

Alright, nuthin’s easy is it, let’s try it again…

Travis
Travis

What a great way to start the weekend!!! With a great laugh!

Joe in Nebraska
Joe in Nebraska

You know the season is officially lost when the main positive takeaway is that Archer actually made it through six innings. And I don’t care what the MLB average for starters is. When you give up as much as the BMTIB did for him, you should expect more than average. 😳

Michael S
Michael S

Well at least it’s encouraging that Archer is pitching better. Yeah, we got fleeced in that trade but now all we can hope for is ‘the best Chris Archer” and if we can get that, great. As well as the best Archer, we also need DK’s “fire everyone” action item to be completed 🙂

Lambertfan
Lambertfan

They are doing their best to catch the Tigers for the first pick in the draft, which if they had would be used to take a mid-tier player they could sign while the Dodgers, Red Sox, or Yanks would draft and develop the next Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw

HCW78
HCW78

DK, when Archer strings together five quality starts in a row, or five of six, get back to us. I’ll be waiting, likely for a long time.

Popsfan
Popsfan

So nice to see Archer have a good game, he reminds me of Adam LaRoche — never hit when the team needed him and got hot after the season was lost.

This team has crossed into train wreck territory — it’s horrifying, but I can’t look away.

Keller hasn’t got half the talent Glasnow had, I can see no reason for the Pirates to be so optimistic. Searage won’t help him, Hurdle’s just tired of holding up a semi-talented team, Huntingdon has no baseball sense, Kyle Stark should be selling used cars — yea, fire the lot of them.

TC
TC

Maybe Archer finally has said “enough of this BS” of the Pirates pitching philosophy and is pitching like he knows he can instead of “pitch to contact “

Sisyphus
Sisyphus

Or maybe he’s just sucked because he sucked.

Everybody loves to blame the coaches. Blame the players. Archer came here at 29 years of age in the middle of his 7th major league season. He hadn’t been a good pitcher since he was 26 years old, and his performance in 10 starts for the Pirates was almost identical to what he’d done in 17 starts for the Rays. Archer’s problem is Archer, not the fault of Ray Searage or anyone else at the Pirates.

TC
TC

So how do you explain the other pitchers the Pirates almost ruined? See Cole, Morton

MMPPens
MMPPens

Baseball’s 162-game schedule is a monotony that has to change. The season is just too long. For teams like the Pirates it’s torture. Why prolong it? If I were king, I’d make baseball a 100-game season, and then, as in the NHL, I would divide the league into four divisions with a wild card system that works like hockey too. I think it would make baseball so much more interesting and make the games more interesting too.

cave bonifield
cave bonifield

The length of the season is what makes it unique among the major team sports. It is one reason baseball players have to deal with both the mental and physical challenges to a greater extent than any other player in any other sport.
Besides, what would we all do in August and September, watch football? Talk about torture…
Leave the season alone.

MMPPens
MMPPens

Just because it’s unique doesn’t make it right. That’s just resistance to and unwillingness to consider change. And baseball players would have plenty of mental and physical challenges as they and their teams try to succeed in a shortened-season where more of the games they play have a true playoff implication. And I completely disagree that baseball players have greater challenges than any other sport. Just look at hockey between January and April of each year. Plus, you’d have four rounds of playoffs that extend over two months. A long baseball season just makes the game boring and causes it to lose relevance for all but a few teams.

cave bonifield
cave bonifield

Boring to you, MMM but not to me. I don’t crave the constant movement of hockey or basketball. But when I was younger I was a huge fan of both of those sports and was lucky enough to watch Orr and Esposito in their prime in Boston.
You made my case with the four rounds of foolish playoffs which make the hockey season irrelevant.
Why even have a season.
Just start eliminating teams each month as the hockey season drones on. That may make it more interesting.

MMPPens
MMPPens

That’s funny b/c one of my other ideas was to do for baseball what you suggested for hockey. Once a team is out of contention, then its season is over. I’ve been a baseball and hockey fan for as long as you have and maybe longer having watched and seen both of the above hockey greats and many others. I can also remember baseball then w/fewer teams and fewer games where the games, for the most part, were much more meaningful than today. So, as someone who has been a baseball fan much longer than hockey, I don’t come to my conclusions lightly. Baseball is just too long. It just is. Not that MLB or the players will shorten their paydays. But keeping 162 won’t help the game in the long run.

cave bonifield
cave bonifield

The one thing that could be considered in MLB would be to draw from the MILB model and divide the season into two halves.
That keeps the interest elevated and you can keep the 162 game schedule.

Sisyphus
Sisyphus

They did that once because of a strike. The team with the best record in the NL did not make the playoffs. That system is awful.

NJ07035
NJ07035

“Once a team is out of contention, then its season is over.” – with the turnaround and ultimate finish for the Blues this year, I’d like to know what your line of demarcation would be…

MMPPens
MMPPens

I was reacting moreso on what the previous commenter said. I agree that such a solution would not be practical.

csbadger
csbadger

It hasn’t been less than 154 games for a long time. I don’t see 8 games (162) to be all that different from 154 which was last played by the National League in 1961.

MMPPens
MMPPens

I would go back to my original solution — 140 games, with two divisions in each league. The top three in each division automatically make it to the playoffs, plus two more wildcard teams based on record. Begin the playoffs in each league with the following matchups — 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5. Make it best of five for the first two rounds, and the best of seven for the last two. Or best of seven for all. I could go either way.

MMPPens
MMPPens

Plus, require a salary cap for each team and a sharing of TV revenues.

Sisyphus
Sisyphus

It’s only too long for fans of teams that stink.

Travis
Travis

I love the game of baseball, Can’t stand the MLB. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to go back to about 140 games or have a damn salary cap or stop letting owners like Nutting completely take advantage of the system & why in the hell would he fire anyone? They are the ones who keep the bottom line rolling right along & if anyone truly believes he wants to win over anything…I got a crisp 3 dollar bill with your face all over it.

MMPPens
MMPPens

I’d go for that. Shorten the season. And definitely add a salary cap and share the TV revenue. Make the league competitive again.

MMPPens
MMPPens

I have supported Hurdle, his coaches and players who have had to endure the nightmare of Nutting-Coonelly-Huntington. But I now agree with your first two words — fire everyone. The Pirates are in a free-fall as a franchise so why not just blow it up? Hurdle has lost the team, and Searage as a pitching coach is toast. Nutting will still make his money if he slashes to the bare bone to start over. And who cares? It’s not like the Pirates will ever win again. It’s so sad. I am a lifelong Pirates fan who doesn’t even care to go to a game any longer. I’m also a LifetimeLunatic, DK, and, hopefully, as you wrote, we’ll live long enough to see change some day to right this sinking Pirates ship.

Rico 412
Rico 412

It is somewhat humorous that they use “modeling” (as I am sure that all teams do) to predict a number of potential win totals. If things fall into place “perfectly”, they MAY be in contention for a playoff spot (or pick up that extra win a week). I wonder if there was any scenario that the statistical analysis predicted this much of a disaster!

JAR
JAR

When will the losses stop.

$now
$now

I still remember the near revolt from the fans when the team traded Glasnow. Despite his 5.79 ERA with the team, 3-11 record, the 20 HRs and 91 BBs in 141 innings (over 3 fun years of watching him pitch), you could just tell this was a player they were going to regret trading. And everyone in Pittsburgh but team management knew it too.

Jay Roberts
Jay Roberts

Slow your roll, he had a strong 6 weeks with Rays, that’s it. Let’s see if he continues after surgery…..

Sisyphus
Sisyphus

Archer hadn’t been good for four years. The trade was a horrible one if Glasnow never pitches again.

NJ07035
NJ07035

there was no “revolt” when he was dealt – many wanted him gone long before the trade. Only after he had success did those fans pounce.

Cliff70
Cliff70

Dickerson batting .381 with 2 HR and 7 RBI in 6 games with the Phils. Should have been kept and resigned. Would you rather have him or Polanco in the 2020 OF?

Jay Roberts
Jay Roberts

Always wanted to keep Dickerson and they just gave him away….

NC-BOB
NC-BOB

Polanco is owed something like a guaranteed $23M – they aren’t going to eat that or be able to trade him.

The decision was basically made years ago when they signed Polanco to a long term deal.

J.P.
J.P.

They can STILL sign him.

Sisyphus
Sisyphus

They can still sign him, if they’re stupid enough.

Biggie_Smalls
Biggie_Smalls

The Pirates should keep the fans up to date on their profit margin….at least we could root for Nutting’s financial success. That would be nearly as exciting as having a competitive team.

TWM
TWM

Comments dropping off precipitously now that Stillers football has begun. Thank God. This unchangeable train wreck doesn’t deserve the calories burned on the keystrokes. Kool Aid drinkers downcup away.

PlazMan
PlazMan

Funny how all the arrogant, 90 win predicting, they had a winning season last year Koolaid drinkers have disappeared faster than cockroaches when the lights are turned on. Yet they still stop by to down cup comments.

Cliff70
Cliff70

The losses keep piling up. I have given up on seeing any pitching bright spots, though Archer did better than usual. My only interest now is watching the hitters. Can Bell get his mojo back? Can Reynolds, Newman, Osuna stay above .300 BA? All the rest is wasted loyalty

mikerozier30
mikerozier30

Osuna embarrassed himself last night. Huge play where he misplayed that ball in lf. Please post video DK if u have it. Laughter is good for the soul

karlgus
karlgus

When you have lost 22 of your last 25 games there are no longer any “huge plays”. No need for drama…this team is bad!

henry spicer
henry spicer

I have never understood all of the fans of Osuna….he is a butcher in the field and the defensive position doesn’t matter. I will give him lots of credit for his pinch-hitting this year but this guy is not a player you build around if you clean house. It is funny how us Pirates fans always have a “cult” player we want to defend. I remember the idiots who thought we should make John Cangelosi a left-handed shortstop.

TMac
TMac

Archer is pitching for a team that is 19 gms und .500 with no expectations right now, no pressure!

Joe in Nebraska
Joe in Nebraska

Great point.

RickA
RickA

They don’t draft well, develop well, trade well or sign free agents who fill the holes. Other than that, why would you fire them?

Billyho
Billyho

It all is just so sad……Nutting is hell.

scd5045
scd5045

For archer yesterday performance was strong, let’s see what he does the rest of the year. No time for kumbaya, way too little, way too late to write anything positive.

Fire nutting? Cmon dude…l

musicman
musicman

Moral victories are for losers and that’s what the pirates are right now.

Kridder19
Kridder19

The next 6 starts for Archer will be solid starts…. This will be what NH will bring up next spring to the media on what a great pitcher he is. Nutting will echo this in his annual Spring Training Speech to “motivate” the team and fans.
When will we realize nothing will change until you Fire Everyone!

Rocco
Rocco

Because of the Steeler game last night, for 3 hours, I completely forgot that the Nutting Hostage Crisis was continuing.

cave bonifield
cave bonifield

I didn’t even know the Steelers played last night.
Nothing like a pre season football game to get that adrenaline rush.

Rocco
Rocco

Well Cave, I don’t regard it as an adrenaline rush, but you tell me, what’s more honest : The Steelers playing depth chart players in a game that does not count and in a game they don’t care if they win, or the Pirates doing the same in a game that DOES count?

Travis
Travis

BOOM Rocco!!!!

Daniel Mucy
Daniel Mucy

You know…Archer is a pretty thoughtful guy with a lot of insight. I wonder, Dejan, do you sometimes feel the spirit of Frenchy Fuqua here-is Archer over analyzing? Might he just be better off just letting his talent take over and just let the ball fly? And whatever happens, happens?

Zebug
Zebug

I get the exact opposite feeling with Archer. I think he just goes on natural ability and hasn’t learned to pitch. He’s just a thrower and when he’s throwing well he looks good.

TWM
TWM

Oh, good ol Ray Sewage will fix that. LOL.

henry spicer
henry spicer

When Searage gets fired at season end–he will have no problem getting a high level position in a different organization. Could he be better–of course. Can he turn AAAA pitchers into 18 game winners? Nope…and neither can anybody else. The answer is on draft day and there is where they have failed miserably.

mikerozier30
mikerozier30

Nice of him to start pitching well when the season is over. This guy is a STIFF

mikomark
mikomark

Absolutely correct; saw the same *too smart for his own good* happen here in Tampa, over and over.

Suwanee88
Suwanee88

My bigger question……who the hell would actually want to cover this team and write about every night? Maybe hire a guy in prison to cover them.

Zebug
Zebug

If I had any semblance of writing skills, it’d be a dream job. Baseball is simply an amazing sport full of tradition, strategy and good old fashion man v man in the pitcher v batter. Other than strip club DJ, I can’t think of a better job

TWM
TWM

Photographer for certain magazines.

Sisyphus
Sisyphus

I’d love to have the job if I was the sort of guy who could do it.

csbadger
csbadger

That’s cruel and unusual punishment

gary_oshell
gary_oshell

The 20 year losing streak was an awful time, but at least you know a great part of it was due to the club having no money. What we have now is a travesty that continues to get worse. I don’t take firing people lightly, but it has come to the point that it has to be done.

TWM
TWM

Back then we had hope. We were led to believe the team would invest as they neared contention. Turned out to be bullshit. Now we know better. There is no hope. They’ve shown their slimy stripes.

mikerozier30
mikerozier30

I see the gang from 115 Federal st downcupping this am… 4-22 Lol lol lol

DJ
DJ

Fire ‘em all … like yesterday already.

Daniel Mucy
Daniel Mucy

Hey guys…regardless, Archer is coming back. For one, Huntington is not gonna let him walk and be destroyed for the trade all over again…and for another, with the way pitchers drop like flies around here, at least Archer has a chance to pitch every 4th day. Just saying what the perspective is from the GM. Who, by the way, isn’t leaving either!

TWM
TWM

Not $ure I agree with thi$ a$$e$$ment.

Next Man UP
Next Man UP

I guess Chris Archer is now pitching good enough and Pirates will save enough getting rid of Cervelli and Dickerson to pick up his option.

GhostoftheUSSHalGill
GhostoftheUSSHalGill

comment image

jimthompson107
jimthompson107

How many games are left? How many articles by DK will end in “Fire Everyone”? Let’s hope those numbers are equal.

pjoneslawbuy
pjoneslawbuy

Dejan is our Cato

TC
TC

I hope they lose all of them

J.P.
J.P.

Remote needs battery…..stellar.

For Huntington, Chisenhall is that hot chick who blew him off in high school ( drafted but didn’t sign).
But then years later they start talking on Facebook and he thinks they are finally going to hook up.

After meeting at the restaurant and blowing $200 on dinner and wine however, her boyfriend picks her up in his purposely obnoxiously loud pickup truck and they drive away..

Bold Ruler
Bold Ruler

Too many like that on Tinder, and the Pirates have been burned by many free agents like that in history’s past, e.g., Operation Shutdown.