Pittsburgh Pirates: When Will the Bats Wake Up?


Apr 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) gets ready to hit against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

As the Pittsburgh Pirates begin a six-game home stand against division rivals Cincinnati and the St. Louis Cardinals, they find themselves in a precarious position of falling too far behind early in the season.

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Having dropped three straight last weekend to the St. Louis Cardinals on the road, the Buccos now find themselves in fourth place in the National League Central Division and seven games behind the first place Cards who have won seven straight.

Pittsburgh has an identical record as the Reds so their series will determine who takes sole possession of third place with the Chicago Cubs holding a 1 ½ game lead over the two teams as of last Monday.

The problem for the Pirates is their offense. As a team, Pittsburgh is batting a dismal .231 average. Only five teams are worse in the major leagues.

The home runs are not coming either. With just 20 through 25 games, Pittsburgh is 18th overall. Surprisingly, the Houston Astros lead the majors with 40.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates /

Pittsburgh Pirates

However, the Bucs pitching has been outstanding. They are just behind the Cardinals in the majors for E.R.A. with a mark of 2.79. Their staff has the fifth most strikeouts. Gerrit Cole has yet to lose a game and at 4-0, his 1.76 ERA is 10th best in Major League Baseball.

Mark Melancon has found his groove again and has registered five saves in 12 appearances. For A.J. Burnett, he has proven thus far he is far from being at the end of his career but he most certainly must be wishing that when he’s on the mound his teammates would start producing.

Burnett has an excellent 1.45 E.R.A. and has walked just 10 batters in 31 innings. But while starting give games he has just one loss without a win to show for it.

So what gives? With a former M.V.P. like Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison coming off a season where he was one of the most exciting players on the team, how are these two and the rest of the lineup not helping raise that .231 average?

If these bats came alive, rest assured the Pittsburgh Pirates would be in a better place. This writer had the opinion that Pedro Alvarez would be the key to Pittsburgh’s success in 2015.

In an earlier article, it was pointed out that the Pirates had only made the post-season in three straight years twice in their history after failing to make the playoffs prior to the two-year streak.

That opportunity seems in jeopardy thus far in the season unless the Buccos can turn on the engines of their offense. Otherwise, once again it will be two-and-done for playoff appearances.

While Alvarez got off to a fast start, he’s now slowed down to a .227 average and is stuck on five round-trippers. Cutch has hit just two homeruns while sporting a lowly .193 average. That’s shocking. He’s also striking out during a little over 19% of his at-bats. Did he jinx himself by losing the dreads?

The only one in the normal lineup that is hitting for average is sophomore Gregory Polanco who is hitting at a .290 clip. Polanco has eight stolen bases and leads the team with hits at 27.

What happened to the 2014 dangerous Harrison is anyone’s guess. Now hitting just .188, Harrison only has two home runs as well and just six runs-batted-in.

For Pittsburgh to start making a move in the Central, the bats of Neil Walker, Starling Marte, Alvarez, Cutch, and Harrison have got to come alive.

Is the lack of offense a fluke? Is it just a major slump by these players? Pirates’ fans certainly hope that what this lineup accomplished the last two years starts repeating in 2015…and fast.

Next: Is the NL Central chase already a lost cause for the Bucs?

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