How can Jordy Mercer be replaced in Pittsburgh Pirates’ lineup?


Jordy Mercer was struck by a pitch in the chest late in Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Mercer immediately fell to the ground, in clear agony. After a few minutes on the ground, Mercer was helped off the field. He was replaced by Jung Ho Kang for the duration of the game. The Pirates’ twitter account diagnosed his injury as such:

This is a very vague message, but, luckily, Jordy himself sent out a message as well. For the time being, it seems like his injury isn’t serious.

However, Mercer will probably miss at least a few games due to injury and will have to be replaced in the lineup. Mercer is currently batting .200/.293/.200; yes, his average is the same as his slugging percentage, as he has yet to have an extra-base hit on the year. His career line of .261/.313/.396 may be difficult for a bench player to match, but his production this year is certainly attainable. Let’s look at a few candidates to replace him in the lineup.

Jung Ho Kang

Kang was Mercer’s immediate replacement Sunday and seems like the most likely player to replace him in the lineup. He played shortstop in the Korean Baseball Organization and he’s only received ten at-bats on the year so far. Neal Huntington and management have decided that it is best not to send Kang down to the minors to get him at-bats, but that he and the club would best be served by keeping him in the majors, even if it means accumulating fewer at-bats.

So, if Mercer is down for even a few games, it would best serve Kang’s development to get him some starts at shortstop. He’ll get to see more major league pitching which will, in turn, show how he can adjust to the league. Mercer more than likely has the shortstop position locked down for this season, but Kang was paid money to be a potential starter in the future. He has to have some time to show that he can turn into that this season.

Sean Rodriguez

Sean Rodriguez was brought into Pittsburgh to be a utility man. He has three hits in six at-bats this year, and can play all over the field. If the Pirates want a known commodity in the field, Rodriguez is their guy. That would mean Kang would remain on the bench, still not being able to see consistent major league pitching. But if Mercer has to go on the 15-day disabled list, Rodriguez will get a few of the starts at short.

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If Jordy Mercer does indeed have to go on the disabled list, the Pirates will most likely call up a middle infielder from Triple-A Indianapolis. That could mean Pedro Florimon, who cleared waivers recently, or it could mean someone like Steve Lombardozzi, who is off to a hot start at Triple-A so far this season. In any case, I expect Kang to get the majority of the starts at short in Mercer’s abscence. It’s time to see what Kang can do with consistent playing time.

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