Fifty games into the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2011 season, it’s all about pitching.
10. Two words.
So what’s Clint Hurdle got to do with pitching? You would be surprised. Hurdles’ Texas Rangers hitters put seven runs on Paul Maholm last year. He shared the scouting report with Paul Maholm. It obviously has had an impact on Maholm. [Hat tip to Bob Walk on the scoop]
The team is showing patience at the plate in drawing 182 walks, which is good for fifth best in the NL.
The team isn’t scoring runs, with just 189 through the first 50 games.
As we keep saying, this team never rolls over. Jeff Banister promised us they never would, and it’s refreshing to watch it play out.
9. Agressive Baserunning.
The Pirates have 35 stolen bases, good for ninth in the NL. They have been caught stealing 15 times. Andrew McCutchen is now getting signs to steal a base from the bench, and it is working.
If you missed our article on the Pirates historically bad baserunning, here it is:
After thirty five games, we were frustrated watching Andrew McCutchen on the basepaths. It was nice of Hurdle to “force” his star to steal bases. Maybe Cutch will give him a cut of the forthcoming performance bonuses.
Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez got off to a terrible start in terms of strikeouts. Ten games into the season, Walker led the majors with 15 strikeouts, Pedro was right behind with 14. Thankfully those trends have improved (it’s all relative).
After 35 games:
Walker had 34 strikeouts-in the past fifteen games, Walker has struckout 12 times and for the season stands at 46.
McCutchen had 27. In the past fifteen games, Cutch has struckout seven times to keep him third on the team with 34 now.
The Pirates have a pile of strikeouts – 402 to be exact. After 35 games the team had 287, so there is some improvement for the Bucs.
7. Fewer Walks, Better Results
Early in the season Pirates’ pitchers allowed so many walks – especially in the first ten games – that it was amazing the team was able to remain around .500. This is another trend that has improved for the Pirates as their team WHIP is now 1.30.
The Bucco pitchers have allowed 162 walks in 446 innings. (An interesting note for us was to see the Cubs with 199 walks allowed, the Reds with 198, and the Astros with 177.) The team has an ERA of 3.49 which is sixth best in the NL, thanks in large part to holding runs off the board and allowing just 419 hits in 446 innings pitched.
The strikeout numbers have improved, and that ability to get swings and misses has helped pitchers repeatedly pitch their way out of jams. But don’t get ecstatic just yet - the Bucs had just 221 strikeouts after 35 games. Those numbers are improving.
In the past fifteen games, the Pirates pitchers have struckout 103 batters, which is an average of 6.86 punchouts per game.
One more thought–I know, I know, it’s supposed to be only ten — another interesting number for the Bucs’ pitchers and catchers: they have allowed only 33 steals, fifth best in the NL and another sign of improvement over 2010.
6. Charlie Morton
5. Paul Maholm
We didn’t think we would see the day when Paulie pounded the ball inside. Old dogs can make changes.
4. Kevin Correia
What a difference a year makes. Kevin Correia has been a road warrior. It’s insane. Sustainable? We sure hope so.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ fielding has been quite awful in 2011. The stats show 32 errors on the season. The Pirates have dropped, which is a good thing, from number three to number seven in the National League in the past fifteen games.
The Pirates fielding still has some work to do. As you know, without solid fielding, this ballclub is doomed.
2. Joel Hanrahan.
Fourteen for fourteen. His slider showed life recently. That spells doom for the opposition.
And checking in at number one, as we said after ten games, twenty games, thirty and thirty-five games. We are saying it after fifty games.
1. Road Wins
Can this Pirates’ team win on the road was answered right out of the gate. If this team can win on the road, the Bucs are going to surprise. They won their seventh road series with the win against the Cubs on Saturday. In 2008, the team won seven road series all year.
That’s more road series wins than 2009 and 2010 combined.
Go ahead. You’re allowed. Smile. Sure, the Pirates are a team with only one hitter that has an OPS above .800 (Andrew McCutchen) … Yet the Bucs have won 24 games. Thank your favorite Bucco pitcher for that.