The pitching has led the way. And despite having Jeff Locke as the only starter standing from the opening day rotation, the Pirates still have the best team ERA and opponents’ batting average. The bullpen has been insane which was noted by Brewers outfielder Logan Schafer after the Martin walk off yesterday in extra innings.
"“It feels like they all throw 110 mph, and they’ve all got good stuff, they know what they’re doing. They locate their pitches for the most part and they get ahead early in the count. Those guys are very good.”"
The collective sentiment is that the Pirates are headed to the playoffs. Baseball Prospectus calls the Pirates odds the best in baseball.
The team is not without its’ holes despite Neal Huntington saying there is no glaring weakness on the club. We guess it depends on ones definition of glaring. As Christina Kahr wrote about for Sweet Spot the other day, right field needs some help.
"How is it that the franchise of Dave Parker, or Roberto Clemente, or Paul Waner, as proud a legacy of right-field greatness as any team this side of Babe Ruth’s employers, could be producing a collective .656 OPS before Saturday’s action?That’s the lowest RF mark in the National League, the worst among NL corner outfielders (even the Juan Pierre-hobbled Marlins), and worse production than 10 teams in the NL are getting from their center fielders."
Jose Tabata is scheduled to finish his disabled list stint very soon. It’s hard to imagine Tabata helping the club considerably (one double in 23 AAA at-bats,) but after watching his performance in spring training this year, it’s at least a time killer until a move is made at the deadline.
Something to consider is the fact that Andrew Lambo has hit insanely well this season. Lambo was just named the IL Player of the Week. We find it highly unlikely that Clint Hurdle would want to give some big league at-bats to Lambo, but what he is doing in 2013 is certainly forcing the Bucs to at least notice him.
He is still the player everyone remembers ripping up the AFL at such a young age and looking at his numbers now, it’s hard to imagine Lambo was left unprotected and passed on by every ML team in in the Rule 5 Draft.
Another often discussed point is that of the overuse of the shark tank/Bucs bullpen. Some, including Neal Huntington have stated the pitchers are more efficient than ever and actually aren’t being overused. Whatever side of the argument you are on, remember the Pirates still have highly explosive arms at the AAA level that haven’t been called up, or haven’t seen extended time with the club this season.
The Indianapolis Indians are running away with the International League much like the Pirates are piling up wins at the big league level. Indy has several pitchers that could help the Bucs–Jose Contreras, who the Bucs seem to really like is pitching well after being signed to a minor-league deal. Vic Black, Duke Welker and the return of Jared Hughes are arms that could help the Pirates in the second half should the bullpen ever falter–which seems hard to fathom after it’s first half performance.
Tony Sanchez could help the Pirates upgrade the bench and rest Martin without sacrificing offense.
Also remember, Brandon Inge is still on the roster.
So many options, only nine positions. The bottom line is the team is still going to see Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and its’ right fielders play better offensively. The pitching staff will get A.J. Burnett back very soon.