Ireland Contracting Nightly Sports Call: April 2, 2021 (Pt. 1)

KDKA's Rich Walsh and 93.7 The Fan's Paul Zeise discuss the sports topics of the day.

Video Transcript

RICK WALSH: --looked at last year, they were so inconsistent at the back end.

The starters aren't that good. That's my biggest concern on this team are their starters. The whole pitching staff was a big concern for me. But they have a ton of pitchers, and I think that's the way the league is going. That's the way baseball is going. You need pitchers.

And, you know, Paul-- Paul is nicely joining me tonight. And Paul, you know, the one thing about having a ton of pitchers and using a ton of pitchers like they did yesterday, the game's going to be 10 hours. It's ridiculous how long these games are. It's unbelievable. There's got-- you want to make the games faster. They've got to change something.

PAUL ZEISE: Well, when you use 15 pitchers between the two teams, which is what happened-- the Pirates used seven. The Cubs used eight. That's the recipe for having a game that's four hours and 15 minutes long or whatever it is, and guess what? Nobody wants to watch a four hour and 15 minute long baseball game, Rich. That's the biggest problem that baseball has.

And unfortunately I think we're going to start to see how baseball is sort of evolving where the seven, you know, inning starter is just going to become a dinosaur. You know, every one of these teams is going to start doing this thing with the opener and trying to have, you know, guys go three innings and then back them up with another pitcher and another pitcher and another pitcher. I don't know if there's a solution because I think that's the way baseball is going.

RICK WALSH: Well, then how do you justify paying someone Gerrit Cole-type money, you know, guys like that? Like, how can you-- how can you justify that then moving forward? Because if they're only going to go five innings, I'm not paying someone $300 million.

PAUL ZEISE: Well, no, I agree. But I think, you know, there's the Gerrit Coles of the world that are still out there. You know, they're just becoming rare. That's the big thing.

And I think when you look at, you know, the number of guys that are going to go for 200 innings a year, I just think that number's going to decline. I think there will be a very small group like Gerrit Cole, you know, that want the ball, that want to go deep into games and all that other stuff. But, for the most part, I think what you're going to see is a lot of teams are going to try and sort of piece together starts and have, you know, their guy goes three innings and another guy go one and another guy go two and another guy go one, and that's just the way they're going to do it.

RICK WALSH: I didn't really think this through, but I thought a little bit about it today, how to solve that, how to fix that where you can't use seven pitchers, maybe unless an injury. But what if you did something like a three-inning minimum for a pitcher? I know they were trying to do, what, three outs, but what about three innings or something?

PAUL ZEISE: You know, I guess you could do that, but the problem is then you take the closer out of the equation. I mean, there's a lot of different issues that come with that. I like the fact that you've got to go three outs. I mean, I think if we do this thing where we bring a guy in and he pitches to one batter and we go get another guy, I don't think that's necessary.

I just think, Rich, that the way that they're, you know, training pitchers, the way that they're bringing them up through the minors and everything else, guys are just not getting conditioned to throw the ball six, seven, eight innings. All of these teams are afraid of Tommy John surgeries and things of the such. So, you know, they're doing things a lot differently than they used to.

RICK WALSH: All right, so before we take a break here, I want to ask you-- before we start taking phone calls too-- are you encouraged by anything you saw yesterday? I mean, I'm encouraged by a couple things, but I'm realistic here. I think they're at best a 60-win team, but I do see signs of a decent bullpen. I like some of their players. I know that-- I think the starting pitchers are going to be awful this year, but I do like Ke'Bryan Hayes. I do like Kevin Newman. There's a couple-- there's a couple pieces that I do like.

PAUL ZEISE: Well, I mean, I think what you saw from some of those guys that came out of the bullpen, they've got some nasty stuff. And, you know, if you come out and you throw strikes and it's, you know, nasty stuff that moves a lot, you can become a really effective relief pitcher. So I think that was some good things that you can put together, you know, for the Pirates.

And I think the other thing is and what we've said about this team, the lineup is not going to be a lot of swing-and-miss, strikeout-type stuff. I mean, guys will put the ball in play at least. And when you put the ball in play, you give yourself a chance to score a couple of runs here and there or whatever, move runners up, all the things they do, and they do those things reasonably well.

So to me, I agree with you. Probably maybe a little bit more like a 65-win team type thing, but I think they're going to be OK.

RICK WALSH: You know, I hate to even say this and even bring this up, but, I mean, this team, if it would win, you know, 78 games, 80 games, even 75 games, they'd really be doing themselves a disservice, don't you think? I mean, this is a team that is built to lose and lose a lot so they can get a high draft pick again.

PAUL ZEISE: Yeah, I mean, I think that's, you know, the biggest-- you know, the biggest thing to come out of being able to lose so much is you get the high draft pick, and maybe you-- hopefully you get the number-one pick overall, and you get to do it, you know, two or three years in a row. That's really good when, you know, you're able to string together a couple of really good-- of course, now you've got to pick the right guys, which they haven't always done either.

So you want to win as many games as you possibly can. I don't think there's any chance this team wins more than 70, so I don't think it's that big of a deal. But you're right. You might as well really, really stink and get the number-one pick.

RICK WALSH: All right, well, we're going to take a break. We're taking your phone calls. [? 425-752-600 ?] is the number. Get online. Back in a couple minutes.