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Breakfast with Benz

Analysis: For Pirates, it's as bad as you think it is

| Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 8:24 a.m.
Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Bell reacts after being thrown out after Jordy Mercer flew out into a double play during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 11, 2018, in Phoenix.
Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Bell reacts after being thrown out after Jordy Mercer flew out into a double play during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 11, 2018, in Phoenix.

If Tuesday's 13-8 loss to the Diamondbacks felt like a low point for the 2018 Pirates, you are right. Not just because they gave Arizona six walks and three errors and five unearned runs along the way.

But it really is. They are now three games under .500 (32-35). That's a low point in the season. It also is starting to mirror low-water marks during the Clint Hurdle era.

Remember the "Epic Collapse 1" and "Epic Collapse 2" death spirals of his first two seasons of 2011 and 2012? In those two years, the plucky, still-building Pirates twice appeared to be on the verge of assembling teams that may end the 20 years of losing.

Then the rug was pulled out from underneath them in the second half of the season.

This team is starting to feel a lot like those editions. The biggest problem is that those clubs didn't begin to fall apart until well after the All Star break. They stopped losing basically because they ran out of time when the schedule ended. Unfortunately, in this case, this team is just in mid-June.

By comparison, let's have a look:

• These Pirates have won just six times in 24 games. During a similar 26-game stretch during "Epic Collapse 1" in 2011, they won only six times between July 26 and Aug. 22.

• The Pirates have now lost eight series in a row. During "Epic Collapse 2" in 2012 — when the team crashed from 16 games above .500 on Aug. 6 to ending four games under — they lost seven series in a row.

• From Aug. 7 until the end of the year, the 2012 Pirates failed to put together a winning streak longer than two games. They couldn't win three in a row from July 20 onward in 2011. This team has failed to do so since May 18.

• Since this bad stretch began May 18, the Pirates have allowed five runs or more 13 times. During Epic Collapse two it was 25 times. So they are pacing great there, too.

• The Pirates don't have any starting pitchers with an ERA better than 3.90 at this point. Chad Kuhl is closest at 3.95. The 2012 Pirates had just one: A.J. Burnett at 3.51. The 2011 team had three guys: Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens and Paul Maholm.

• Like the 2012 team, the Pirates currently have only one qualified player hitting above .300. That's Corey Dickerson at .311. Andrew McCutchen was the only guy above .300 on the 2012 team. Neil Walker led the way at .273 in 2011. McCutchen also was tops on the club last year at .279

• The current team's defensive efficiency of .683 is pacing behind those two clubs.

So, yes Pirates fans. It's gotten every bit as bad as you think it has.

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