Remember when the Pittsburgh Pirates were in first place in the National League Central thanks to a dominating rotation? That was only a couple of weeks ago, but it may as well have taken place in 2018 given how times have gone as of late. Pittsburgh dropped to 17-17 on Thursday following a 17-4 boat race against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates are now 4-11 in their past 15 games and are making a habit out of yielding too many runs.

Consider that in the Pirates’ first 17 games this season, they afforded their opponents 58 runs, or about 3.4 per contest. Over their past 17 games, however, the Pirates have yielded 110 runs, or close to 6.5 per game. That’s nearly twice their early-season rate, and essentially the difference between the second-best run prevention unit in baseball and the worst.

Pittsburgh’s recent woes can’t be blamed on a few blowouts, either. The Pirates have held the opposition to three runs or fewer just three times in their past 15 games. Conversely, they’ve permitted six runs or more on seven occasions. Giving up that many runs that often is going to make for tough sledding for any team — let alone one whose bottom-10 offense ranks third-to-last in home runs. Is it any wonder why the Pirates are scuffling?

As for that rotation, the Pirates have had seven pitchers make a start for them the past two weeks: they’ve combined to allow 49 runs in 58 ⅓ innings. That includes a combined 15 runs in 15 innings for Chris Archer and Jameson Taillon, each of whom is now on the injured list.

So the rotation goes and the Pirates go. Right now, they’re not going anywhere worthwhile. 

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