Rum Bunter Rumblings: Pirates a notch above Brewers

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If only we could play the Milwaukee Brewers everyday.  Uttering that statement just a few years ago would have resulted in a inciting a riot, but a dozen games into the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates appear to have put their troubles with the Brew Crew in the past.

We start our look back with the results from our annual Rum Bunter Photo Hunt as founder Tom Smith shows us the shenanigans from the home opener with photos to prove it – but the fun doesn’t end there. From leading off the home opener with a theatrical bang to the home sweep of the Brewers, it was an exciting week that brought the Bucs back to .500 after closing out the week with a record of 6-6.

Not everything last week was complete bliss.  As assistant editor Tyler Waite points out, there could be trouble on the horizon after the rocky start that closer Mark Melancon has experienced to start the season.

According to PITCHf/x, via Sawchik, Melancon’s cutter (his go-to pitch) averaged 91.8 miles-per-hour over the course of last season. This season, in the month of April, Melancon’s cutter is averaging 88.7 miles-per-hour. This isn’t just a few ticks off. That’s a good three mph drop from last season.

It may be a little premature to hit the panic button, but a drop in velocity could be indicative of an undisclosed injury as Tyler points out.  But if your worried about a potential Melancon-less bullpen, have a look at The Big Tuna’s post to regain your positivity on the state of affairs after the first two weeks of the season.

Remember how bad Jeff Locke was in spring training?  Remember the utter disbelief that management would allow him to start the year in the rotation? Yeah, me neither.  Editor Jacob Misener tells us what we should expect from Locke after his dominant performance over the weekend.

I have been a long-time critic of Pedro Alvarez, but it is hard to discredit four home runs over the first four match-ups of the season.  Those who know me, know Alvarez would have to hit a World Series clinching home run and discover a universal cure for cancer in order for me to jump on his bandwagon.  But, I suppose a lot of that has to do with the disaster that he was last season and my sentiments towards him could change.  Maybe.  But as Staff Writer Heidi Swanson tells us, the writing is already on the walls for Alvarez’s future.

After coming off a career year in 2013 when he hit 36 HRs, 100 RBIs, and contended for the National League MVP, he struggled mightily in 2014 with his numbers dipping to 18 HRs and 56 RBIs before having his season cut short by injury. Of course, he also struggled defensively, with 23 throwing errors which led to his switch from third base to first base last August 

I am hard-pressed to disagree with the future of Alvarez, but if he continues to swing a hot stick, his value will have never been higher for a team sitting in the driver’s seat.

We close out our Rum Bunter weekly review with taking a step back from speculation and let you feast your eyes on some cold hard facts with staff writer Jon Anderson’s take on Starling Marte‘s start to the season and Jim Tufexis‘ indepth series on the swing mechanics of the offense.  Our Matt Bower continues the experience with his recap of the week in this week’s “Back Deck Report.”

Week three of the season kicks off tonight with a home series against the Chicago Cubs.  Jacob Misener gives us the look ahead in his unbiased preview of the four-game series of the division rivals.  I encourage you all to keep tabs on Cubbies Crib – the FanSided network site of the Cubs, to see if our beloved Jacob maintains his neutrality or if his blue and white roots begin to show.

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