Oh, it’s time! It’s time! It’s mailbag time!
Welcome back to the weekly Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag here at Rum Bunter. This week we take a look at the future of Ivan Nova, how long the Pirates can go with this four man rotation in the outfield, and why the team seems to handle adversity so poorly.
As always, thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s mailbag. Now let’s dive into the questions and begin.
My guess would be no.
Ivan Nova has been terrible this season. Prior to going on the disabled list Nova owned a 4.96 ERA, 4.28 FIP, he was in the top-10 in the National League in home runs allowed, and his 34.6% hard contact allowed rate was also in the top-10 in the league. This would make moving him difficult to do.
The question becomes how much of this is due to Nova’s finger issue that landed him on the disabled list and how much of it is due to Nova not being a very good pitcher. In his career he owns a 4.31 ERA, 4.30 FIP, he’s averaged 1.17 HR/9, and he’s allowed hard contact at a 32.4% rate while only striking out 17.3% of batters faced.
More than likely it’s a bit of both. So while Nova may not be as bad as he’s been this season, he is not good either.
Also, with his contract, the Pirates are not going to be designating Nova for assignment or anything of that sort. The team’s best bet is to hope Nova’s issues were more due to his finger injury and not due to him just pitching the way he has his entire career, because, odds are, he is not going anywhere anytime soon.
It depends. If Gregory Polanco continues to struggle then no, probably not. If he can start hitting again then yes they can.
Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte have been the team’s two best players all season and need to be playing on an every day basis. Austin Meadows has earned the right to be playing every day right now, however, sooner or later he will cool off and will probably hit a slump because that’s what young hitters do.
Getting Polanco back on track could give the Pirates one of the most formidable outfields in the National League. If not, and he continues to play and take at bats away from one of the other three outfielders, it will do nothing but lessen the team’s chances of winning games while also having the potential to ruffle some feathers in the clubhouse.
This is an area where I have been extremely critical of the Pirates.
Dating back to Chris Coghlan‘s slide that took out Jung Ho Kang in late September 2015 the Cubs have bullied and pushed the Pirates around and the Bucs have done nothing about it. On Wednesday night, Joe Musgrove finally took a stand and instead of walking away from Javier Baez he turned and confronted him as Baez yelled at him.
Due to his slide on Elias Diaz, Anthony Rizzo should have been plunked in the top of the 9th inning on Monday and was not. Since it was not done then, he needed to wear one in the top of the 1st inning on Tuesday, but, once again, the Pirates did nothing.
Failing to respond to issues like this has often been a trademark of Clint Hurdle teams. From 2012 – 2015 teams, especially the Cincinnati Reds, used to take a lot of liberties with Andrew McCutchen and more times than not the Pirates did nothing about it.
Is this part of the reason the team seems to respond to adversity so poorly? I am not sure. Ultimately, I think the biggest issue remains a talent problem. There is a reason the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Pirates bounced back from losing streaks and rough patches much better than the 2016 and 2017 Pirates did.
As for the 2018 Pirates, their current 3-10 stretch is their first real big stretch of adversity this season. So, we will have to wait and see how they respond to it.
That will do it for this week. If you ever have a question for the Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag look for our Tweet each week asking for questions.