Are You Having Fun Yet?
By Richard A. Mathews
If you have been living in a cave the past four months, you will not believe how your Battling Bucco’s are playing.
No matter the results in Philly this weekend, your Pirates will begin the month of August with more wins than losses.
No matter the results in Philly this weekend, your Bucs will be at worst within 4 ½ games of first.
No matter the results in Philly this weekend, this Pittsburgh team will have a winning road record before ending a twelve game stretch many considered a true test of their viability as a contender this year.
Yes my fellow Bucco fans, our Pirates will begin August as contenders for the National League Central division crown!
Almost as encouraging is, several currently injured players are days to weeks away from returning to the big league roster.
From Ohlendorf, to Tabata to Doumit to Pressley, the Pirates could be getting an influx of pitching and hitting to help carry them through the Dog Days of Summer.
This year’s version of the Bucs is being compared to the great pitching light hitting Giants of last season.
With Jeff Karstens leading the way, the starting five has dropped their collective era nearly a run and a half since last season.
A resurgent Paul Maholm still can’t seem to buy a break in the way of run support offensively yet his 3.16 era is a career best.
Charlie Morton’s great first two months have evened out a bit yet he still owns a 3.69 era for the year.
James McDonald still has gotten past the seventh yet a strong series of starts has now dropped his era under 4.00 to 3.95.
Early NL win leader and All Star Kevin Correia rebounded for a great effort to help split the Braves series running his win total to a club high 12 while holding a starting staff era of 4.24.
The bullpen has faltered at times in middle relief yet succeeded well enough that the team in now 49 and 0 when leading heading into the ninth.
Closer Joel Hanrahan has one blown save for the year a game the team eventually won in extra innings to go along with 31 saves.
Clearly pitching has been a major reason this Bucco team is in contention.
Yet if not for unexpected contributions from players not in the Pirate system when the club headed north this spring, our Bucco’s wouldn’t be fighting for a division title.
The club has used a MLB high for players through 7/25/2011.
No fewer than eight men played catcher this year.
The defensive contributions and timely offense of McKenry and Fryer cannot be overly praised.
Wild pitches since the arrival of both as well as runners thrown out trying to steal have helped keep close games in favor of our home team.
The play of Paul and Pressley enhanced Clint Hurdle’s aggressive base running strategy and upgraded our defensive ability. Pressley’s offense prior to heading to the dl might have been the biggest surprise of the season among position players.
The value of Harrison and D’Arnaud cannot be under estimated as both farm hands filled in for players injured. Even the .218 hitting Brandon Wood has made timely contributions to the offense with 18 rbi in part-time play indicate.
The 63 rbi held by both Walker and McCutchen project to decade high totals for Pirate 3-4 hitters a truly remarkable feat for both young MLB starters.
Your Bucco’s are going to be faced with some very interesting choices as the season progresses and players return from rehabilitation work in the minors.
Fresh arms from Ohlendorf to perhaps by late August Meek could augment the pitching staff.
The return of Tabata’s and Doumit’s bats could provide some much needed power to the club.
The speed, defense and offense of Pressley represents a weapon with multiple options.
I truly hope you have enjoyed your 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates this season.
Let’s Go Bucs.
This article was submitted 7/29/11