Late last week Rum Bunter C0-Editor Jason Rollison provided us his insights into why the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-8 record was a cause for celebration. Call it a coincidence, but I think Jason might have awoken a beast that refused to settle for 8-8. After breaking out the brooms this weekend, the Pirates closed out the week 11-8 after a three game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks that included an impressive team performance in yesterday’s 8-0 shutout victory.
On the heels of a five game winning streak after the sweep of the Diamondbacks and a four-game split with the Chicago Cubs, it would be hard for one to find many negatives in our weekly recap. But, questions still remain around Mark Melancon‘s ability to close out games and the Pirates ability to provide run support to match up with quality starting pitching performances, particularly those of A.J. Burnett as Co-Editor Jacob Misener points out.
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While Melancon has recorded three saves during the Pirates five-game winning streak, it was just last Tuesday that Melancon imploded in the ninth inning resulting in a loss to the Cubs. Assistant Editor Tyler Waite quickly called for Melancon to be removed as the team’s closer and justifiable so after a rough start to the season. Which “Mark the Shark” should we expect moving forward? Despite his success since Tuesday’s loss, Melancon has yet to show a return of his velocity and he continues to have issues with command of his pitches. Were his three saves luck, or has he turned the corner and is returning to form?
We can call this one a surefire coincidence, but Pedro Alvarez has been stuck on four home runs since Rum Bunter Founder Tom Smith went live with the 2015 Pedro Alvarez home-run tracker. After collecting just 4 hits in 20 at bats last week, Alvarez has seemed to fall back into his old inconsistent ways after a hot start to the year. If not for a bases loaded situation, Alvarez’s two run single in yesterday’s game would have almost certainly been nullified by a defensive shift which would bring even more clarity to his struggles. As “Rollo” pointed out earlier today, Sean Rodriguez‘s hot bat may soon begin to steal at bats from Alvarez.
Should Alvarez’s splits against LHP continue to crater, we could see more platooning at 1B with Rodriguez getting more starts.
Well, that’s enough of the past. It’s never a bad time to take a look into the future as Staff Writer Heidi Swanson gives us a look at the possibility of a Gregory Polanco contract extension. Tyler Waite weighed in last week with his predictions for the career path of Gerrit Cole and followed up that piece with his predictions on whether Cole or Alvarez is the most likely client of super agent Scott Boras to receive a contract extension from the Pirates.
Two players that have been viewed at one time or another as potential big pieces of the future of Pittsburgh baseball are Gerrit Coleand Pedro Alvarez. The biggest road block to extending these two is that both are represented by Scott Boras, the most notorious agent on the planet
The unfortunately quick playoff demise of the Pittsburgh Penguins will ensure the Pirates don’t lose any more television broadcast time to their cross-town companions, but that’s no reason not to join Staff Writer Matt Bower as he takes in the sounds of the game from his deck and gives you his perspective in his weekly Back Deck Report.
Nearly a month into the season already, the Pirates will begin their fourth week of the season tonight vs the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. If the Pirates are to continue their momentum into this series, it might be time to give some forgiveness. Our own “The Big Tuna” offers up a heartfelt apology to Jung-ho Kang on behalf of Pirates fans that is sure to get you in the right mindset before a pivotal series with a division rival. After the first pitch though, anything goes!