Much will be written in the next few days leading up to the arrival of Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco(rumors swirling that he will be called up either for Friday’s series vs the Brewers or Monday vs the Cubs, more on this later). The main focus right now is, what to do with Josh Harrison when Polanco does arrive. The good news is, no one is really saying to keep Polanco down longer while riding out Harrison’s hot streak as most people still can’t wait for Polanco to be called up.
I personally will be curious to see the reactions if Polanco gets called up, struggles and Harrison is back to the bench regularly. I would think the folks who are not casual baseball fans will realize that growing pains can and should be expected with Polanco once he arrives. However, after the growing pains, he could blossom into a superstar and that’s the reason why for the casual fans, Polanco will play just about every day.
Josh Harrison has been doing an absolutely fantastic job for the Pirates and he’s also controlled through the 2018 season so there should be no talk about trading him for value because he’s a great piece to have in case of injury or complete ineffectiveness. The easy thing to say would be to move him to shortstop, which has been pretty weak to this point in the hitting department and not so reliable with Jordy Mercer making some mistakes.
If Harrison could continue to hit the way he’s been hitting then you are OK with giving up a little bit on defense to get the bat in the lineup. The smart money would say that Harrison will eventually go into a major slump and everyone will remember why he’s a bench guy to begin with. Another thought would be to put him at 3rd base and pretty much make a platoon with Pedro as he has troubles with lefties. The last thought to have and the one I’m probably most aligned with is to move Harrison around and find him at bats because he can play so many positions.
If there is a tough lefty on the hill, put him at 3rd base to give Pedro a day off plus you can have him(Pedro) as a power bat off the bench later in the game. You can put him at shortstop to supplant Mercer and Clint Barmes if you are facing a team that doesn’t steal a lot, maybe doesn’t hit into a ton of double plays or if both of those guys go completely ice cold with the bat. You could put him in Left Field to give Marte a day off or move Marte to Centerfield to give Andrew McCutchen a day off. You could put him into right field to give Polanco a day off from time to time and all of this would lead to Harrison getting plenty of at bats while not giving up on any of the current roster.
Gregory Polanco Watch
There have been rumors swirling around Twitter that the Pirates plan to call Polanco up at some point this weekend. They could call him up on Thursday, create a ton of extra buzz for the upcoming homestand and pretty much guarantee sell outs all weekend OR they could wait until Monday to call him up and sell a whole lot more tickets to the Cubs series. If they do wait until the Cubs series, they could potentially have Polanco face a lesser team than the Brewers to ease him in a bit. As it stands right now, the Pirates would face Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood. Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija against the Cubs. The Brewers have Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo slated for the weekend series.
The Pirates will use Polanco in the lead off spot which is interesting considering the great job that Harrison has done in that spot but it might be smart of the Pirates to put Polanco at lead off and put Harrison behind him or even move McCutchen up to #2 and put Walker at #3 to allow Polanco to see some better pitches. I’ve long been a fan of moving McCutchen up to #2, the problem has been that who would bat 3rd but I think that Neil Walker would be a fine choice to put there. This could give the following lineup:
L – Polanco – RF
R – McCutchen – CF
S – Walker – 2B
L – Davis – 1B
R – Martin – C
L – Alvarez – 3B
R – Marte – LF
R – Harrison/Mercer/Barmes – SS
Most people will want the following lineup.
Polanco – RF
Walker – 2B
McCutchen – CF
Davis – 1B
Martin – C
Alvarez – 3B
Marte – LF
Harrison – SS
It’s a good lineup and again, where Harrison hits would depend on the position he is playing and if Martin is behind the plate. The big thing is, right now, this lineup is hitting with Davis at cleanup and Alvarez at 6th. It’s long been said that Hurdle loves McCutchen batting 3rd so that probably won’t change and Walker is doing a nice job hitting at 2. The reason for my switch is because teams fear McCutchen and that’s good for Polanco.
The next week will be very exciting for the Pirates as it is at any point and time when a top prospect in the game is about to be called up. The team is off on Thursday to allow Polanco-mania to get in full gear and the MLB draft is Thursday night so it will almost be like not having a day off at all. I say Bring on the Fun!
Not to gloat too much but in a previous article I’ve written, I took a look ahead at the month of May and predicted the Pirates would be at 26-30 by the time the Dodgers series was over and BAM, NAILED IT! I hope that my other thoughts and predictions will come true for the month of June. Let’s take a quick peek at the rest of the month.
Padres – 3 Wins, 0 Losses – Counting Game 1
Brewers – 1 Win, 2 Losses
Cubs – 3 Wins, 1 Loss
Marlins – 2 Wins, 1 Loss
Reds – 2 Wins, 1 Loss
Cubs – 2 Win, 1 Loss
Rays – 1 Win, 2 Losses
Mets – 3 Wins, 1 Loss
The Pirates should be: 43-39 by month’s end and back in the race and only a couple games out of the Wild Card spot.