Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 7/7/14 thru 7/13/14, the 15th week of the 2014 baseball season.
Weekly result: 2 wins and 5 Losses, 27 Runs Scored and 30 Runs Allowed
Hero of the week: Andrew McCutchen takes “Hero of the week” honors for the second week in a row. Cutch’s heroics on Saturday night might just be the signature moment of his career thus far. He stole the Reds’ hearts by drilling a game tying home run in the top of the 9th. Then in the 11th inning he hit another blast to give the Pirates the victory. It was all part of a week in which McCutchen hit 4 homers, drove in 7 runs, and scored 9 times.
Zero of the week: Ike Sanchez…I mean Gaby Davis….I mean the damn 1B platoon. Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez combined to leave 19 runners on base this week. Sanchez was 1 for 12 with 0 RBIs. Ike was 2 for 14 with 0 RBIs.
How do you spell relief? J-A-R-E-D H-U-G-H-E-S. While the rest of the bullpen took turns melting down at the end of games, Jared Hughes was icing opposition hitters in the 7th inning. Hughes pitched 4.2 innings of scoreless relief this week.
#HURDLED: Let me first say that for me the #hurdled hashtag is more an indictment on the strategic flaws of managers in general, and not so much to poke fun at Clint Hurdle for his specific shortcomings. The decisions Clint Hurdle makes would be made by 90% of the managers in the game. What happened to the Pirates this week was simply a microcosm of flawed bullpen usage that is prevalent throughout Major League Baseball. Pirate relievers allowed two walk-off home runs and blew a 5-3 lead in the 8th inning this week. Meanwhile closer Mark Melancon watched it all unfold from his lawn chair in the bullpen. Melancon went an entire week with out being used while the rest of the bullpen crumbled. But as much as I hate how closers are used at least I can understand why managers try to save their closer to finish games on the road. What I don’t understand is why the primary set up man has become a 1 inning pitcher. Tony Watson has been the brightest spot in this bullpen all season. His work this year has earned him an all-star bid. On Monday night he retired the Cardinals in the 8th inning on 5 pitches. He should have been sent back out for the 9th inning. Instead Ernesto Frieri was given the ball. Needless to say it was not shocking that Frieri served up a walk-off homer to Matt Adams. In 2013 Watson was terrific in multi-inning outings. Last season he pitched more than 1 inning 17 times, including 7 outings of 2 innings or more. This season Watson has yet to have an outing of 2 full innings, and has only gone more than 1 inning 3 times. This cookie cutter style management of the bullpen has got to stop. That works fine with a good bullpen. This is not a good bullpen. Hurdle has to get more creative to get outs from this group of suspect relievers. That means Watson pitching more than 1 inning. That means Melancon pitching in non-save situations. That means quick hooks and playing match ups better.
The little things that matter: Tony Watson was summoned in the 8th inning on Friday night to protect a 5-3 lead. He got the first two hitters out and had Devin Mesoraco behind in the count 1-2. Devin Mesoraco is a fastball hitter. His career average against fastballs is .294. Devin Mesoraco is terrible against changes ups. His career average against change ups is just .171. He has never gotten a hit in the major leagues against a change up in an 0-2 or 1-2 count. Tony Watson possesses an excellent change up. So why did the Pirates try to challenge Mesoraco with a fastball up and in? Watson missed the location with a 96 mph heater, Mesoraco deposited it into the left field seats, and another bullpen implosion was underway.
It must be Hidden Vigorish: Over the last 4 seasons Andrew McCutchen has been caught stealing on average 10.5 times. This year he has swiped 15 bags in 15 attempts.
Stats that blow my mind: Pedro Alvarez has lapped the field with 19 throwing errors. The next closest is Josh Donaldson with 10.
Records and Milestones: Pedro Alvarez hit his 100th career home run. Jeanmar Gomez earned his first career save.
He said what: Neal Huntington wants Andrew McCutchen to play his whole career as a Pirate. Talk is cheap, but at least the front office is expressing the same desires as the fans.
We truly hope Andrew McCutchen retires as a Pirate. That is going to be incredibly challenging to do, but that is our long-term goal.
— Forbes to Federal (@ForbesToFederal) July 13, 2014
Front Office Notes: Starling Marte was placed on the bereavement list which was very unfortunate for him. What was unfortunate for us was Neal Huntington used that as an opportunity to free Matt Hague.
On The Farm: Tyler Glasnow is a top 50 prospect that garners a lot of attention, but don’t sleep on his Bradenton Marauders teammate Jason Creasy. Creasy has a 3.29 ERA and has issued just 13 walks in 98.1 innings.
Highlight of the week: Andrew McCutchen was the hero on Saturday night thanks to his game tying and game winning blasts, but none of that would have mattered if not for this game saving throw by Gregory Polanco to cut down what would have been the winning run for the Reds in the bottom of the 10th inning. This was just a sensational play. The throw by Polanco was a perfect one hop bullet, but the short hop pick by Russell Martin was equally amazing. A catchers mitt is not designed to make plays like that. Just an all around great play at a big moment in a very important game.