Pittsburgh Pirates Wake-Up Call – bracing for Arrieta
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 your way from around the web as well.
Bracing for Arrieta
The fate of the Pirates was sealed last night as they got blown out in the series finale by the Cardinals, who clinched the NL Central division title at PNC Park. The Pirates provided us with some hope in the afternoon as Gerrit Cole had another great outing in a Pirate win, but the team’s fate was sealed on the backs of a short, poor performance by Charlie Morton and the lack of any offense in the nightcap of the double-header. Now, the Pirates are staring at their inevitable date with Jake Arrieta next Wednesday.
The division was always a long shot with the way the Cardinals had played all year, and while the Pirates gave us hope towards the end of this season, the Cardinals were the more consistent team. Maybe the Pirates’ poor start to the year did them in, or maybe they just couldn’t close on the Cardinals whenever they got close. Or maybe their injuries hurt them. But this season will still end up being one of the best regular seasons in Pirate history, and that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Now we have one week to mentally prepare to face a pitcher on possibly the greatest regular season run in the history of baseball. Yeah, that’s a lot to take in. But if the Pirates can find a way to best him in that playoff game, then maybe they are destined for greatness. I still feel that the Pirates can beat any team in baseball in a series, especially considering Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke won’t get the chance to start. Hopefully the fact that two of the three best records in baseball have their season hinging on one game will provide Major League Baseball with some incentive to change the current playoff format in the future.
The future of Charlie Morton
Last night was an atrocious start for Charlie Morton, who was yanked after just two innings of work. He left the bases loaded without recording an out in the third inning for Bobby LaFromboise, which ended up resulting in a grand slam. I applaud Clint Hurdle for his willingness to go the bullpen early, though it may have been one batter too late. Unfortunately, this is probably the type of outing that many of us expected. This start was more than likely Morton’s last of the regular season or the post-season, and it’s fair to wonder about his future in Pittsburgh.
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Personally, I feel that there will be a large number of options available either internally, through free agency, or via trade that are better options than Morton for next season. But he is on the hook for about $8 million next year, so unless Neal Huntington can get creative with a trade where another team will eat some of that salary, I still see Morton being back in 2016.
Anything is possible, and many teams need pitching out there. Morton has the ability to pitch well from time to time, and he’d be a league average number four or five starter on many teams, just not with the Pirates. If the Pirates want to take the NL Central next season, they need better pitching at the back-end of the rotation. Locke and Morton cannot both be back next year or Huntington didn’t do a good enough job in the offseason.
Around the net
Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Post-Gazette posted a chat transcript recently where he addresses whether Pedro Alvarez should start the Wild Card game, Andrew McCutchen‘s slump, and much more. Check it out here.
And don’t miss the weekly podcast from the guys over at the Tribune-Review, as well as some info on whether Clint Hurdle has revealed his playoff rotation.
The Pirates still have business to take care of, as their magic number to clinch home field in the Wild Card game still sits at two (the Cubs blasted the Reds last night 10-3). Let’s hope they can lock down that home playoff game on Friday when they play the Reds for the final series of the season.
Next: Has J.A. Happ cemented his status as the 3rd postseason starter?