Two Polar Opposite Concerns For The Pittsburgh Pirates

Ross Ohlendorf hasn't been exactly incredible in Pirates 2011 Spring Training.

Ross Ohlendorf has been getting a lot of questions this Spring Training.  We say relax on the Boss. 

We know it’s hard staring at that 0-5 record and 9.82 ERA right?  It’s hard reading headlines about being shelled, rocked, and a cause for worry among Pirates fans.  We say relax.

After the Boss makes three starts, then decide how you feel.  The numbers above are hardly anything to be concerned about, the games are fake remember?  Ohlendorf showed good velocity, no sign of injuries, and kept the ball down and hammered the inside part of the plate. 

Was it flawless last night?  No, it probably will never be flawless with Ohlendorf on the bump.   Was it good enough for a win?  It should have been.  But neither Pittsburgh newspaper will tell you that today. 

Against the Philadelphia Phillies Ohlendorf seemed to be trying to bust his fastball inside.  He worked on it most of the night.  He got a little bit too inside and hit three Phillies batters.  Shitt, he should get a medal for doing that.  Please remember this is still a fake game.  It’s a good thing Ohlendorf is working on busting hitters inside. 

Ross has struggled from the stretch for an extended period.  Last night, it hurt when Ryan Doumit threw the ball into centerfield on a Jimmy Rollins steal attempt that allowed Luis Castillo to score a run.  It was a key play in the game and cost the Bucs what would be an important run later. Ohlendorf then struckout Ryan Howard and got the inning ender on a Raul Ibanez flyout to Jose Tabata.

One thing to remember about the forgettable 2010 season is opposing runners were successful in 16 of 17 stolen base attempts when Ross was on the mound.  It didn’t change much last night.  The right hander takes longer to throw the ball to the plate, it’s a fact.  He has worked very hard this Spring to hold runners on base. 

It bordered on laborous last night.  Especially in his 33-pitch third inning.  And when Ryan Doumit made a poor throw costing the team it can’t help your confidence from the stretch.

Also when the shortstop boots a Brooks Brothers double play ball in the second inning that would have ended the inning with only Ohlendorf surrending a homer to Francisco, instead two more runs came across the dish.  Plays like that don’t help a pitchers mojo or the pitchers pitch count which reached 94 last night for Ohlendorf.

The fourth was more frustration.  A leadoff single by the career .157 hitting Roy Oswalt, another Phillies stolen base, and more failed double play turns all led to the Philthians putting another deuce on their  gorgeous scoreboard.

Did Ross pitch a great game?  Hell no, but don’t you give up on the Pirates season because Ohlendorf hasn’t been impressive in silicone games.  Don’t blow your predictions by thinking that one of the key members of the rotation isn’t working yet.  Yeh, you should take a closer look. 

Ohlendorf doesn’t concern us nearly as much as some.  Apparently the guy is very healthy after being allowed to hurl all those pitches on a damn cold night, right?    That was one of our biggest worries headed into camp, Ohlendorf’s health.  But he seems ok.

Ohlendorf just needs support.  He isn’t going to ever be a dominant pitcher, we don’t feel that will happen.  Again, Ohlie needs some help.  Help first from his catcher and secondly from his fielders.  The Princeton grad requires very good defense behind him to be effective and that simply wasn’t provided last night in Philly.  Nor do we believe it will be during the season.

But despite all the sky is falling coverage, we think Ross is going to make everyone forget his ugly 2011 spring as soon as he gets a few starts in real games.  He is healthy and that’s very important.

How did the Pirates catching situation go to hell so quickly?

Pirates catchers.  Now that’s the concern for us.  Chris Snyder is broke down.  Ryan Doumit still doesn’t seem recovered fully from his injury two years ago.

For the Pirates average staff to have any chance on a nightly basis, the Ten+ Million Dollar Men need to show up.  We know we can check one of those off the list already with Slumpdog Snyder on the DL.  He has a bad back.  Neal Huntington said it’s muscular in nature and the pain isn’t near the surgically repaired area of Slumpdog’s back. 

Snyder was brought to Pittsburgh to play defense, to slow the oppositions running game and guide a fragile staff.  In our eyes, he has done the exact opposite.  And  that’s a much larger concern headed into the month of April which certainly looks like the toughest part of the Pirates entire schedule.  

If Snyder bounces on and off the DL all season, this could get really ugly in Pittsburgh.

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Topics: Andrew McCutchen, Lyle Overbay, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Pirates Blog, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Pirates Blog, Ross Ohlendorf

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