The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday afternoon by a score of 8-3, this was just the second time this season the Pittsburgh Pirates have been swept in a series.
There is no denying it, the Pittsburgh Pirates are currently in a massive slump. The Pirates suffered an 8-3 defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals in Sunday afternoon causing the Pirates to be swept for just the second time this season. The Pirates have now lost five games in a row, 12 of their last 16.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will get a much-needed day off tomorrow and hopefully the team can recharge their batteries during that day off. Because right now they are playing like a team that will struggle to finish with a winning record, let alone compete for a fourth consecutive postseason birth. Anyway, here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs from Sunday afternoon’s loss.
Third baseman David Freese – David Freese collected a pair of hits on Sunday afternoon, he drove in a run, and he scored a run. Freese finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate, and raised his average on the season to .298. That .298 average is the highest of Freese’s career.
David Freese also contributed on defense in Sunday afternoon’s loss. Freese made a trio of fantastic plays at third base continuing his all around fantastic season. No matter what Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates have asked David Freese to do this season, he has done it, seemingly, with ease.
Left fielder Starling Marte – Starling Marte is having the best season of his still young Major League career in 2016, and that continued on Sunday afternoon. Starling Marte finished the game 2-for-4 with a RBI, giving him 23 now on the season.
After collecting a pair of hits on Sunday, Starling Marte now has a .332/.375/.489/.864 slash line on the season to go with a .371 wOBA and a wRC+ of 137. All of these numbers are career bests for Marte who just continues to get better and better at the plate. Furthermore, Marte ranks third in the National League in doubles (18), first in infield hits (14), and is second in stolen bases (19).
Relief pitcher Cory Luebke – On Sunday afternoon, Cory Luebke had his best outing of the season. Luebke pitched two scoreless innings of relief, lowering his ERA to 8.22 on the season. Luebke allowed just one hit, one walk, he hit a batter, and struck out four.
Cory Luebke’s stuff is intriguing. He can throw 95+ miles per hour from the left side, and features a strong slider. Maybe Luebke, who has now thrown three consecutive scoreless innings, is starting to figure something out. But I am not overly optimistic there.
Starting pitcher Jon Niese – Jon Niese had been on a great roll for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the course of the last month, but he was horrible on Sunday afternoon. Niese lasted just 5 1/3 innings and allowed eight runs on 11 hits. This saw Niese’s ERA skyrocket from 3.93 to 4.60.
Jon Niese also allowed a pair of home runs, after allowing just two home runs combined his last five starts. Niese also did not generate as many ground balls as he had in last six starts. Despite his poor performance on Sunday afternoon, I am not worried about Jon Niese.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen – The struggles for Andrew McCutchen are continuing, and there are no signs of him coming out of this funk any time soon. On Sunday afternoon McCutchen went 0-for-4 at the plate and he struck out twice. McCutchen leads the team, and finds himself in the top ten in the National League, with 68 strike outs so far this season.
McCutchen now has a 24.4 percent strike out rate which is far and away the highest of his career. Cutch is swinging and misses way too much right now, and the worst part is he is swinging and missing at a lot of hittable pitches. It is tough to decipher what is wrong with Andrew McCutchen right now, but something is drastically wrong.
Catcher Erik Kratz – Erik Kratz made his first start for the Pittsburgh Pirates since 2010 on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately for Kratz and the Pirates, it did not go well. Kratz finished the day 0-for-3 at the plate, and this included his 16th strike out on the season. 16 strike outs does not sound too terrible, until you realize Kratz only has 33 at bats on the season. Woof.
Erik Kratz also hit into a double play on Sunday afternoon after Jordy Mercer singled to lead off the bottom of the third inning. Kratz’s struggles were not all offensively either, as he was also charged with a passed ball in Sunday’s defeat. During the game I Tweeted that Erik Kratz legitimately might be the worst player in Major League Baseball, and, sadly, I was being 100 percent serious.
Well, Sunday afternoon sucked. The last two weeks have, mostly, sucked for the Pittsburgh Pirates. This team is in the worst rut they have been in since early in the 2014 season right now, and with the way the pitching is struggling there are no signs of it ended any time soon.
Adding to the Pittsburgh Pirates struggles right now is that starting catcher Francisco Cervelli being on the disabled list, a bullpen that has been incredibly inconsistent, and starting Triple-A catcher Elias Diaz being on the disabled list as well. Furthermore, Gerrit Cole appears to be headed to the disabled list in the next day or two as well. Combine all of this with a brutal schedule the rest of the month of June, and the Pittsburgh Pirates could watch their season slip away the next few weeks.