Starling Marte set to Return from PED Suspension

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 17: Starling Marte
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 17: Starling Marte /

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Pirates get better

The Pittsburgh Pirates get their left fielder back tonight. When Ivan Nova fires his first pitch of the game to Jonathan Villar around 7:05 tonight he will have the best left fielder in baseball behind him. That is because Starling Marte returns tonight.

Starling Marte was slapped with an 80 game PED suspension on April 18th. Exactly three months to the date, Marte is set to return for the Pirates. His return could not come at a better time for the Pirates.

Currently, the Pirates are 45-48 and sit 6 games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers. If the Pirates are going to make a run at a National League Central championship, they need Starling Marte to be the player he has been since his Major League debut in 2012. Starling Marte playing to his max capability is better than any trade deadline acquisition the Pirates could make.

During his rehab stint, Starling Marte looked ready to go. At Triple-A Indianapolis Marte had a .384 wOBA, 141 wRC+, and he hit a home run and a double in 40 plate appearances. Although it was just Tripe-A pitching, this was still good to see as this was the first time Marte had faced professional pitching since April.

With Marte returning, odds are, either Max Moroff or Philip Gosselin will return to Triple-A Indianapolis. My money would be on Gosselin. While neither Moroff (15 wRC+) nor Gosselin (-3 wRC+), Moroff is plus defender third base, shortstop, and second base. Meanwhile, Gosselin is a below average defender at each position he plays.

Next: Polanco's Offense and Defense Leads Bucs to W

Prior to getting suspended, Starling Marte owned a .284 wOBA and a wRC+ of 74 in 59 plate appearances. Marte had three extra base hits and stole a pair of bases. It should be noted that he has said he knew the suspension was coming before the season started and that having that weighing on his mind contributed to his slow start this season.