Spring Training is fascinating. The past few days the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff went from tops in the Grapefruit League to bottom feeders. It comes down to the basic fact that the Bucs pitchers are working on specific pitches.
Unfortunately, that can be ugly in the box score.
Apparently the opposing pitchers aren’t working on such things, or if they are, the Pirates hitters aren’t feasting on fastballs like the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles. We often wonder how the Bucs bats would do against their own staff in these games.
But anyway, you probably have heard A.J. Burnett didn’t throw any curveballs in his error plagued outing against the Rays the other day. James McDonald is working on his fastball command and focusing on not issuing walks this spring. JMac is just issuing bombs–three of them to be exact, Brian Roberts, Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit. JMac scares us.
Meanwhile Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon each continue to impress. Cole and Taillon each pitched well in seperate outings this week. Cole will remain in camp and we trust he sees some more action–he has to tighten a few things up, but not anymore than the likes of JMac.
Taillon is headed to the World Baseball Classic which will be fun to watch.
The Pirates staff of the future seems more and more attractive each day. The big question is if the Bucs will trust their young, less experienced arms this season?
After mowing down the Rays in Port Charlotte last Saturday, lefty Jeff Locke told reporters he was a bit nervous going against the Sox lineup. Locke allowed two walks and gave up three runs in the first inning. The New Hampshire native settled in and got some swing and miss which is something very important for the Pirates southpaw. We missed most of Locke’s work, but what we did see was him up in the zone more than he was when he was nearly unhittable against the Rays.
Right-hander Kyle McPherson did just fine against the Minnesota Twins. A few balls were hit hard, but nothing out of the ordinary. We are really looking forward to watching the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation unfold. The only question is his health and can his arm stand up to a full season of wear-and-tear. McPherson continues to state he is fine physically. Let’s trust he is right.
But let’s look at this logically. Gerrit Cole is damn close and he has more upside than anyone currently in the Bucs rotation. Cole hides the ball out of his delivery so well, his pitches just seem to magically appear right in front of the batter. It’s just a matter of time until he pitches in the bigs.
Jameson Taillon is even more impressive to us. Taillon seems absolutely fearless. The mechanics are smoother, the drop and drive is less droppy and more drive oriented.
The Pirates pitching rotation will likely include McPherson, Locke, and Cole this season. McPherson and Locke both look very focused on winning a rotation spot. It’s hard to imagine, but the Buccos could have a young, hard working pitching staff very soon. It’s something we haven’t seen in a long, long time. It’s enough to make us drool and knock on wood, it’s going to happen.
And just think, Taillon won’t be too far behind those three. Good God did I drank some kool aid this morning or what?