Pittsburgh Pirates Wake-Up Call – one of 162
By Steve Kubitz
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Pirates Wake-Up Call, a daily feature here at RumBunter.com. Every morning at 9 AM, one of us will give you our random thoughts on the goings-on around the Pirates’ organization, and we’ll throw out a few links to some good Pirates-related items from around the web.
One of those games
The Pirates dropped the second of their four games against the San Francisco Giants by a score of 6-4. Nothing overly dramatic or revealing as the Pirates, outside of Jeff Locke played a mostly solid baseball game.
Madison Bumgarner wasn’t at his best, but he was good enough to pitch into the seventh inning as he went 6.1 innings, allowed three runs on six hits and struck out six. He wasn’t at his best on the mound, but he did his usual thing at the plate as he hit his fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second inning.
Jeff Locke was not very sharp and never really looked comfortable against the Giants’ line-up. He lasted only five innings, allowed six runs on 11 hits and struck out two. To put it blunt, Locke was not good and unless he turns it around, I would not be surprise to see him lose his rotation spot to J.A. Happ once A.J. Burnett returns from the DL.
The Pirates will look to respond to the Giants’ ace with an ace of their own as they send Gerrit Cole to the mound today to take on Mike Leake. The Pirates will look to regain the series advantage, once again on national TV, as Fox has the broadcasting rights to this ballgame.
Gerrit Cole has been shaky over his last four starts, pitching to a 4.70ERA, but his 2.63FIP suggests that he’s been the victim of some bad luck and you can expect Cole to return to his Cy Young candidate type self any day now.
The return of the man
Josh Harrison made his return to the Pirates’ line-up for the first time since he injured his thumb. He went 0-2, but more important his return provides the Pirates with some much needed line-up flexibility. He gives Clint Hurdle plenty of variety in both game day line-ups and in-game substitutions.
Harrison’s return is important for a lot of reasons, but mostly it means that Hurdle can get as creative as he wants to. With the emergence of Jung-ho Kang, Harrison could return to his super utility role, spotting both Aramis Ramirez at third base and Neil Walker at second base. The Pirates played very well in Harrison’s absence, but I don’t think anyone will complain with having him back in the fold, especially in the dog days of August, leading into the September playoff stretch.
Another pending return
Josh Harrison isn’t the only injured player making his return to the team as Jordy Mercer is expected to re-join the team during the Giants series. His return to the team is guaranteed, but his starting spot might not be as Jung-ho Kang has been awesome since taking over as the regular short stop.
Kang, however might benefit defensively returning to third base as his UZR as a short stop is -2.2 and his UZR/150 is -11.0, which is not particularly strong. Mercer isn’t an elite defender by any means, but he’s been much more consistent at the position this season as his UZR is 0.9 and his UZR/150 is 0.5. Again, just something for Clint Hurdle to think about. It would be impossible to take Kang out of the line-up because his bat is way too valuable.
Around the net
Jung-ho Kang and Francisco Cervelli have the Pirates sailing towards the playoffs according to Joe Lemire of USA Today. The 2015 Pirates are much more than Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker as they have been helped by some very shrewd and intelligent offseason pick ups.
Benstonium has created an hilarious and fantastic Pittsburgh Pirates/Family Matters mash up called “We Are Family Matters.” Definitely a must watch for Pirates’ fans.
Next: Josh Harrison returns to Pirates - what does this mean for team?