Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 4/20/15 thru 4/26/15, the 3rd week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.
Weekly result: 5 Wins and 2 Loss, 33 Runs Scored and 23 Runs Allowed
Hero of the week: Gregory Polanco. Polanco flashed a lot of tools this week. His bat, arm, and legs all factored into Pirate victories. Polanco was 8 for 27 at the plate including 3 doubles and a home run. He picked up 4 RBIs and scored 7 times. On the base paths he swiped 4 bases this week. Polanco also gunned out a runner at the plate. While in the minors Polanco was once dubbed a “walking toolshed”. It is weeks like this that make you understand what that really means.
Zero of the week: Andrew McCutchen. Cutch had just 3 hits in 21 ABs and struck out 7 times. Seldom do you see McCutchen scuffling this much. He did draw 4 walks and made some solid contact during the weekend series in Arizona. McCutchen is too good for the bat remain this quiet. The breakout is forthcoming.
How do you spell relief? T-O-N-Y W-A-T-S-O-N. The “save” might be the most poorly named statistic in all of sports. A closer being called into the 9th inning to protect a 3 run lead is not “saving” the game. But every once in while you have a situation where a reliever has to be more than just adequate to spare the team from defeat. That was the case for Tony Watson on Wednesday night against the Cubs. Watson was summoned in the 8th inning with no outs and the bases full of Cubs and the Pirates holding a 4-2 lead. The Pirates’ bullpen was a day removed from brutal a meltdown that cost them a victory on Tuesday. They could ill afford another game to get away from them. Watson was up to the task. He shut down the Cubs in the 8th and then finished them off in the 9th inning to pick up a rare two inning save.
#HURDLED: I understand that Pedro Alvarez has trouble hitting left handed pitchers. I also understand he is defensively challenged. But pinch hitting Corey Hart for Pedro in the 7th inning of a tie game like Hurdle did on Friday night is just way too early. Not only does it remove the best power threat from the lineup but it also burns the best pinch hit option available on the bench.
The little things that matter: Pedro Alvarez is still learning to play first base. Some people would like you to believe that first base defense isn’t really a big deal. But lack of experience at the position has cost the Pirates a few runs already this season. One such occurrence cost Gerrit Cole a run on Friday night. Yasmany Tomas squirted a ball through the right side of the infield because Alvarez let the ball go for second basemen Neil Walker to field. It is was well out of Walker’s reach. Alvarez needs to be more aggressive on these types of plays. He is often deferring on these types of playable ground balls.
It must be Hidden Vigorish: Andrew Lambo has been robbed more times this season than a ghetto liquor store. Finally a ball dropped in for him when he roped a double on Thursday against the Cubs for his first hit of the season. Lambo is just 1 for 18 this season.
Stats that blow my mind: Pirate hitters rank dead last with just 36 base on balls. Last season they led the National League in walks. Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco have drawn just two walks a piece.
Records and Milestones: Jung Ho Kang recorded his first extra base hit and RBI when he cleared the bases with a double on Tuesday.
He said what: Mark Melancon thinks people are way too concerned with his velocity drop and general lack of effectiveness.
I blew one save — one save. Should anybody lose confidence after one save? That’s for them to decide, I guess.
Tweet of the week:
— DJ Gallo (@DJGalloEtc) April 22, 2015
Front Office Notes: All was quiet this week with the BMTIB.
On The Farm: Through the first 15 games of the season the Altoona Curve starting rotation has allowed just 6 earned runs in 82.1 innings. That is a 0.66 ERA. Not too shabby!
Highlight of the week: With the score knotted 4-4 on Thursday afternoon, Gregory Polanco was locked into a battle with Cubs LOOGY Phil Coke. Polanco fell behind in the count 0-2. He laid off a couple of chase pitches and then wasted a few really good 3-2 pitches from Coke. Finally Polanco was able to squirt a ball through the left side of the infield to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead.