Duke has thrown 4.2 IP this spring allowing six hits and four runs. He has struck out four and walked three. Also scheduled to pitch for the Pirates are Daniel McCutchen, Chris Jakubauskas, Javier Lopez, and Evan Meek.
McCutchen has pitched as well as he spoke on the Caravan. In two appearances against the Orioles he has chalked up four innings, three hits, no walks, and three strikeouts. He has allowed one earned run.
Jakubauskas has not looked effective for the Pirates bullpen, while Lopez has held opposing teams to no runs in his four innings of work.
Meek has made three appearances throwing an inning in each. He had good outings against the Rays and Orioles and got roughed up by the Rays in the other. Meek has four strikeouts and has not issued a free pass.
Delwyn Young made a great leaping catch yesterday. He continues to rake. So, DY is seeing a lot of action at second base this spring. What happens if….well, it just keeps getting a little more complicated doesn’t it Pirates fans?
Young can play second base, well let me restate that, Young can hit. Looking at last year, Young carried an OPS of .811 on August 19. He did have his OPS higher in July, but .811 was his peak down the stretch. From Aug 19 to the end of the season, DY saw his OPS plummet over 100 points.
Young’s batting average on Aug 19 was .312. At season’s end it was .266. Young’s slugging was .443 on Aug 19 and fell to .381 when the lights went out on 2009. Everyone contributed the slump to learning a new position. DY had just 10 hits in the month of September with six of them coming in September’s last five games.
Fast forward to 2010. He continues to hit homeruns. It’s almost a daily occurence lately. He also has made some nice plays in the field and he doesn’t look nearly as raw this spring as he did during the season last year. It was very difficult for us to watch a player learn a position during the season. We have been over that topic repeatedly.
So back to the headline. RumBunter is saying without question DY is on this roster. This spring, his 10 RBI leads the Pirates. He shows no signs of cooling down. The guy can flat out rake.
But here is the big question, the Bucs have a semi-log jam at second base now don’t they? Aki is the starter, Young is the backup, LaRoche is on deck, Walker will prove he can hit in the minors and force the Pirates tp make some sort of move. But what move will that be? The Orioles need a 2B. The Pirates want some juice for these improving players. Even Ramon Vazquez looks fully recovered from offseason surgery and is hitting .500 this spring. (Just go with it Pirates fans, the O’s GM certainly reads this site.)
So what will the Pirates GM do?
First, we would like to commend Neal for getting DY for about the price of a lift ticket at Seven Springs. Also, making Aki the highest paid Pirate was another solid move at the time. The pressure for Young, LaRoche, and Walker to produce is glaringly evident. Someone will need to be moved. What a breath of fresh air for the Pirates. The 2B depth in the lower minors is also getting closer everyday.
To think some Pirates fans were stressed about losing Freddy Sanchez? Sure, the Bucs 2B position is far, far from above average. But, it’s far from the gaping hole it was a year ago. Young has this team made and if the slump last year was just that, a one time struggle, John Russell is going to need to get him some at bats. Buckle up Pirate fans.
RHP Chad Durbin and David Herndon are also scheduled to pitch for the Phillies today. The Phils are second among all NL teams in ERA this spring at 4.00.
Chase Utley is on a tear this spring and leads all Grapefruit League players in average and OBP.