Pirates Slip Against Astros, Highlight Huge Worries for Pittsburgh
The good news: this team looks much better than the first place Pirates that faded out to 90 losses last season after briefly holding first place and struggling on their late July road trip through the National League. The bad news: this team is dangerously sliding heading into their series against Cincinnati at the end of the this week.
The Pirates lost today 9-5 and I wil reiterate the worries voiced over at BucsDugout.com: this team has not played well. Dropping 2 of 3 against the Cubs at home was a warning that something was array. Now, the Pirates leave Houston victors of 3 out of four but the tides could have very easily been turned if Houston had not gift wrapped two Pittsburgh victories. From just today’s loss, fans have to be worried about James McDonald. J-Mac is taking a Jubaldo Jiminez type nose dive post All Star Game and it is affecting the Pirates in a huge way. McDonald is struggling to locate any pitch while also allowing mistakes to multiply much like he did last season in rough outings. It might not be a bad idea to rest J-Mac for a day or so and work on adjustments because one more poor start and the Pirates are in serious trouble.
Offense isn’t the problem that it used to be for the Bucs, but it is definitely not going as smoothly as in June. Andrew McCutchen doesn’t have the ability to “slump” but he has been much quieter as of late with the big swings and RBI’s. This is due in large part to the fact that pitchers realize that there is little room to pitch to him and lefties has pretty much stopped all together. The rest of the lineup is chipping in here and there, but there are no consistent bats in the lineup. This didn’t matter as much in Houston, but at home versus the Cubs, the Pirates got blanked by Paul Maholm. Enough said.
The good news for the Pirates is that the bullpen is the glue of this team and they are the best in the MLB. If the Pirates can just get a lead and throw it to the pen, I like their chances to win the game. Granted, that won’t work 100% (even though after 7 innings it has so far) and it won’t work all he way until September, it can do for now while issues are sorted out and tweaked moving forward. Another showdown with the Cubs at Wrigley will define whether or not this team is truly on a skid or just a mild hiccup along the long road that makes up a baseball season.