Pirates’ Will End The Playoff Drought This Season
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Saturday, July.06, 2013
By Chris Lacey (Lead Baseball Columnist/Minority Website Owner) Follow @aecanada12
Who can remember the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates were in the playoffs, because it seems like it has been a long time. The reason that I can’t remember is that it happened in 1992, when they went 96-66.
This is a long time for a sports franchise to go without at least making the playoffs. The Pirates in the past seasons have started out fast, only to fade away in the second half of the baseball season.
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However, this team looks very different from the previous seasons and they have a great chance to make the playoffs this season. They have the best record in the National League at 52-32, and have a two game lead over the St.Louis Cardinals in the Central division.
They are the surprise team in baseball this season, and the main reason for them playing so well is because of their pitching. They have the best team ERA in the NL at 3.16.
Their bullpen has also been great with an ERA of 2.92, which is 3rd in the NL this season. This is one reason they are one of the best teams in one-run games this year, with a record of 16-10.
The one weakness with this team is that their offense does not score many runs. They are 11th in the NL in runs scored with 331 runs, and have a team batting average of .243.
The team is also not good with runners in scoring position, as they have a batting average of .232 in this situation. The pitching staff is holding opposing teams to a .219 average with runners in scoring position.
Since the offense is not great at scoring runs, it helps to have a solid pitching staff that has MLB best 12 shutouts this season.
The pitching is also helpful because the two teams that trail them in their division, the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds have great offensive clubs.
The bullpen for Pittsburgh is anchored by two relievers that have been dominant to say the least. Jason Grilli has been automatic in the ninth inning, with Mark Melancon setting the table in the eighth inning for him.
Grilli became their closer when they decided to ship reliever Joel Hanrahan to the Boston Red Sox in the December 2012. He has saved 28 games this season, with only one blown save in 37.2 innings.
Grilli has a 2.15 ERA along with 60 strikeouts and a 0.87 WHIP. He is holding the opposition to a .187 average. The right-handed closer has righties looking foolish with a batting average of .155.
The only success teams have had against him is with runners in scoring position, as they are hitting .292. If the Pirates have a lead going into the ninth, they feel very confident that he can get the job done.
Melancon is their version of Grilli, but only in the eighth inning. He has a minuscule 0.87 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 41.1 innings and a WHIP of 0.82. He has also shown great control by only allowing one home run and walking four batters.
The opposition has issues generating any offense against him; they are only hitting .195. When facing lefties, they are fighting a losing battle with them hitting only .155.
When runners are in scoring position, the opposition should throw in the white towel, as they only hit .074. He is invincible with runners in scoring position and two outs, as no one has managed a hit in 13 at-bats.
Melancon is a former closer and if Grilli needs a day off, he is the perfect option to close games for Pittsburgh.
The rotation is another part of the stellar pitching for this team. A.J. Burnett is the ace of the staff for their team, but he is currently on the D.L. He was having a great season before he went down.
Burnett has a 3.12 ERA in 89.1 innings with 99 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.13. The opposition is only hitting .206 against him, with righties hitting just .174. When he dose return to the rotation, it will make their team even stronger.
Locke has a 2.12 ERA and opposing teams have yet to figure him out with them hitting .206 against him. When teams have runners in scoring position they have a .125 batting average in that situation, and hit just .121 with two outs in the same scenario.
Liriano is a completely different pitcher in Pittsburgh this season, with him averaging a strikeout per inning this season. He has a 2.23 ERA in 60.2 innings with 67 strikeouts. He could be the difference of why they might win the division this year.
One more starter to pay attention to is their rookie right-handed flamethrower Gerrit Cole. He has made five starts while striking out 16 and walking five along with a 3.94 ERA.
He has won four starts for them, but they may send him back to Triple-A Indianapolis once their starters are healthy. Burnett is injured right now, but Wandy Rodriguez is out as well. They will have a tough decision to make when those pitchers are eligible to come off D.L.
The offense does not score runs, but they do enough to give the team a chance to win. They have a exciting, young outfielder in Starling Marte.
He is playing well for them, as indicated by his .287/.341/.800 triple-slash and he has stolen 23 bases. He has some power in his bat with his eight home runs.
Marte has the potential to be a 30-30 guy for them, and along with Andrew McCutchen they will have a great outfield for years to come.
Speaking of McCutchen, he started the year off slow for them but is finally heating up. He has hit nine HRs with 44 RBIs with 17 stolen bases to go along with a .299/.370/.839 triple-slash.
The best part of this season for the Pirates is that he has yet to go on a hot streak. Once he does the rest of the NL will be in trouble. He is a right-handed hitter, but against lefties he is hitting .339 this season.
Another player that is helping the team this season is third baseman Pedro Alvarez. He is only hitting .243, but he leads the team with 21 HRs and 56 RBIs. Alvarez will not be winning a batting title anytime soon but he more than makes up for it with his clutch hits.
He does most of his damage when the game is tied. He has a .321/.369/1.074 triple-slash with nine HRs and 20 RBIs in that situation this season.
Pittsburgh has different players contributing for them this season, and they have won games in different ways. They will end their playoff drought this season, and make the playoffs for the first time in about 20 years.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***
A big thank-you goes out to our ”Lead Baseball Columnist and Minority Owner” Chris Lacey. Chris has been a fan of watching baseball since the age of 13. Now he does like all sports – but his favorites after baseball are hockey and basketball.
Chris is very good with computers and is a college graduate.
Chris is very active on Twitter and especially during the baseball season chatting with other Diamondbacks fans. Be sure to follow him and talk about the great game of baseball. Chris is addicted to writing baseball.
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Posted on July 6, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @aecanada12 on twitter, a.j. burnett, Andrew McCutchen, cincinnati reds, francisco liriano, gerrit cole, gold glove, jason grilli, jeff locke, joel hanrahan, mark melancon, NL Central, pedro alvarez, pittsburgh pirates, st louis cardinals, starling marte, wandy rodriguez. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Pirates’ Will End The Playoff Drought This Season.