We were listening to 93.7 The Fan this morning for the Walk on Wednesdays segment. Bob Walk is the Pittsburgh Pirates color analyst for ROOT Sports. You know Walkie, he was once a pitcher for the Pirates and is typically a straight shooter and pulls very few punches regarding his opinion.
The topic turned to James McDonald. McDonald was removed from the Pirates rotation on September 16. At the time, Clint Hurdle had this to say about the decision:
“I didn’t see the fatigue, but the execution was challenging to say the least, I think it’s all part of the maturation process of a young man, a starting pitcher in the major leagues, and we’ve definitely seen two different sides of it this year, two different halves.”
Before the All-Star break JMac was referred to as JMAKKKKKKKKKK after his strong performances. Twitter would explode with K after K as McDonald dominated in his first 17 starts.
Before the break, McDonald threw 110 innings and gave up just 76 hits, and only 31 runs while striking out 100.
We watched the 27-year old right hander mow down the Washington Nationals lineup as if they were a punchless pony league team. He was impressive. He was focused. He was…everything he hasn’t been in the second half where he has pitched 61 innings and allowed 71 hits and 51 runs while striking out 51.
So what the hell is going on? How can a pitcher fall that fast, that dramatically? Until today I didn’t have a clue. We thought about going back and looking at release points as Ray Searage has mentioned that in the past, maybe it’s his delivery, but then Bob Walk dropped a little tidbit that perked our ears.
Walk in his typical grumbly, mumbly style said, ‘maybe it’s something off the field…’ we normally wouldn’t pay attention to such speculation.
It got the point across. Walk knows what’s up.
Bob Walk doesn’t speculate, he is close to the team and travels with them all season long. He respects pitchers and knows the subject very well. Walk knows something, now if only we knew what it is because it just might provide an explanation for JMac’s collapse.
It’s only fair to McDonald too. Nobody likes excuses, but if McDonald is truly healthy, then an explanation needs to come out, because it’s just to damn puzzling to try and figure it out on our own.