Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pirates Game 40 Recap - Pirates 4, Tigers 3

Andrew McCutchen > Your favorite major league baseball player. That simple. As some point I envision that Clint Hurdle goes up to McCutchen and the conversation goes something like this:

Hurdle: Hey Andrew, listen, we are not really good at this whole hitting thing so I am going to need you to pretty much be the offense today.

McCutchen: OK skip, whatever you say. I will try my best!

Hurdle: [slaps him on the ass] atta boy

For real though, this was the McCutchen show today as he went deep twice and drove in all four runs in the victory. I am not even sure why teams are pitching to him at this point in the season. You could walk him and not be scared one bit to face what is behind him. At some point this season teams are just going to stop pitching to him and the Pirates offense is going to suffer big time. Unless they can get someone to formulate a few hits behind him this could go real bad real fast for the team. This might be something for a post by itself but McCutchen's success is kind of different this year. While his line drive rate is up this year his ground ball rate is really high. He also is supporting a pretty high BABIP that will regress but if he can get the ball in the air a little bit more I think he will be fine. He is also swinging at a ton more pitches this year and making contact more often both inside and outside of the zone. What is very encouraging is that McCutchen is hitting to all parts of the field. Two of his home runs this week went to right field and when he is doing that there isn't much you can do to get him out.

While A.J. Burnett's line wasn't either good or bad I thought he had a nice outing all things considered. A big part of what I like to "evaluate" pitchers on is what kind of outings they have when they just simply don't have their stuff. He only had two strikeouts today and really didn't have command of his pitcher or have his curve going. He gave up seven hits and three walks in six innings but didn't give up the lead. It was really nice to see him battle through knowing he didn't have his stuff and still get the win. It wasn't pretty but it worked.

Of all the things that happened today the most impressive thing was that Josh Harrison both walked and got hit by a pitch. The first walk of the year for Harrison and only the fourth of his career. I mean he never takes walks so I think it was more impressive that Tigers starter Drew Smyly was able to walk him. That is no easy task. On a more serious note I think that Harrison needs to be playing shortstop. There is no real reason that Clint Barmes should be sent out every day when Harrison has been playing well.

Nate McLouth really shouldn't see the field either. Another terrible at bat today. He was more of a defensive replacement in the seventh but I have no idea why when you have Gorkys Hernandez on the bench. I would have much rather seen him in that situation than McLouth. No idea what Hurdle is thinking. Pair that with a suicide squeeze with runners on the corner and one out with Casey McGehee at bat and you have another game where Hurdle basically pulls terrible situations out of a hat. As Matt Bandi of Pirates Prospects said during the game McGehee hasn't bunted since the 2006 season so why would this be a good idea? I just don't get it.

Something that will probably go widely under the radar was the inning of relief that Joel Hanrahan turned in. He did pick up his ninth save but this was probably his best looking outing of the year. As I have noted he just hasn't looked like himself this year with his control but today it was really good. The slider was filthy good and his fastball was back up to a consistent 98 where this year it seems to have been more around 96. Hopefully this is the start of better things for Joel., I don't mean that Hanrahan has been bad this year because he hasn't, but he hasn't been as dominant as he was last year. Really good to see though.

Nice win for McCutchen the Pirates. Although they can't really hit and strike out a ton (12 times today) they still find a way to win. It would be huge to pick up a series win tomorrow.

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