If the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching woes continue, being over .500 will certainly end. The offense has one hitter over .300. The Astros and Orioles are the only teams with worst run differentials. So how in the hell are the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5?
Charlie Morton hasn’t been sharp. Daniel McCutchen hasn’t been sharp. Paul Maholm waited until Sunday to get his first very solid start. But remember, Ross Ohlendorf is on the DL and someone will have to pick up his next start. Also, the fifth starter spot has not been pretty thus far. Brian Burres has made a start for the Pirates for God sake.
The pitching has been bad, we know that, but screw it, just enjoy the hell out of the Pirates early season heroics. The pitching was great early last season, and we all know how that ended up.
1. The team doesn’t quit. They also bounce back very well. Three walkoffs in eleven games. That is seriously sick Pirates fans. The Bucs had six all of last season.
2. Zach Duke. The left hander should be 3-0 and having discussions about winning 25 games. No, just kidding, he has allowed 8.05H/9 but he should be 3-0. His ten straight scoreless innings has been the Pirates pitching highlight for the first two weeks.
3. Aki Iwamura has reached base safely in ten of his eleven games. He scores runs more often than Pirates GM Neal Huntington uses the word upside.
4. Andrew McCutchen has reached base safely in eight straight games. Ten of the past twelve.
5. Evan Meek (1.13WHIP) has been impressive. Meek pitched scoreless innings in three key situations. Against the Dodgers in a one run win on April 7. Against the Giants in a one run win last Tuesday when he picked up the win. Then Meek did it again Saturday night against the Reds, to preserve yet another one run Pirate victory.
6. Andrew McCutchen stole the game and the most important bag of the young season on Friday night in the series opener against the Reds. Cutch is 7-for-8 in stolen base attempts.
7. Lastings Milledge owns the clutch situations. His average with RISP was .462 heading into Saturday night. He walked on a full count for his second RBI of the night. It tied the score and set the stage for the Garrett Jones walkoff. On Friday night, it was Milledge who ripped the walk off.
8. The Bucs are reaching base and getting some slugging early in the year. I wish I could compare it to the first two weeks of last season, but anyway Garrett Jones has an OPS of .781. Ryan Church has a sick OPS of 1.188 including a clutch situation opening day, more clutch on Saturday night, and then a rocket he hit Sunday that scored another run and ignited the big five run inning. He changed the game in each situation. Delwyn Young has an OPS of .960 with a pile of extra base hits to his credit.
9. Delwyn Young has played all over the diamond and while not smooth at 3B, he has more than made up for it with three doubles, a triple and two walks in his last six games. He is slugging .579.
10. Ronny Cedeno has been the Bucs most consistent hitter. His OPS is .772 but he only has one walk to go with 13 strikeouts in 41 plate appearances. His first homer Saturday night proved to be a crucial run in the game, but his defensive plays, while not brilliant should be more than enough for you not to miss your ex-girlfriend Jack Wilson.
11. The Bucs are agressive on the base paths. It is very exciting to watch this team simply based on their agressiveness on the bags. The Pirates have swiped eleven bases thus far.
12. The Bucs have suddenly become patient at the plate. Saturday night they watched 188 pitches and had nine walks in the game. It seems the Pirates have heard the OPS message from Neal Huntington.
13. The Pirates have had a degree of luck. Four of the Pirate victories have been by one run. In the five losses, the Pirates have been outscored by more than five runs. Yeh, the Bucs have been very lucky for certain, however, patience at the plate is a bright sign. Baserunners are a great thing. Hitting well with RISP is an even better thing and the Bucs were hitting .290 headed into Sunday’s game against the Reds. They also are creating their own luck through the newly found patience. Without plate awareness these first two weeks could have been a lot worse. (The at bat by Milledge on Saturday night comes to mind, that was a great flip of the bat after he earned the walk wasn’t it?)
Now Pirates fans when this pitching comes around…look out. The ten game road trip will have all Pirates fans watching intently. Do the Pirates believe? Can they avoid long losing streaks?