Today Brandon Cumpton got the start for Wandy Rodriguez who is on the DL thanks to some knee pain or whatever is wrong with them. Cumpton actually had a really nice start today. He went seven innings and gave up four hits, total, and was beaten by one hit off the bat of Ryan Ludwick two out double that platted a pair of runs. Cumpton did walk a Red and hit three others but as a whole he was really good and gave the Pirates more than you could want when calling up a guy to make a (possible) spot start. It was all for not though.
Reds starter Tony Cingrani wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination but the Pirates offense was dreadfully bad. After cutting back on the strikeouts they whiffed 12 times and walked twice while gathering seven hits. Once again the Pirates were able to get on the board in the first inning as Pedro Alvarez got a hit off the lefty and platted Neil Walker who reached after a great plate appearance from the right side. All seemed good. Wish it continued.
A few times the Pirates got in good positions. First and second and one out and they didn't do much with it. The Pirates ended the game going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and while the Reds gave the Pirates chances and the Pirates just didn't take them.
There are a lot of things going on with the Pirartes offense right now. Some of them are just bad luck (as much as you want to believe it) as their batting average on balls in play is .262 which is 29th in the league as compared to the league average of .296. Some of the problems is having Starling Marte striking out what seems like a half dozen times per game while this is the offense the Pirates are getting from the shortstop position:
Pirates’ shortstops have a .422 OPS as group (not including PH PA). Four NL pitching staffs have higher offensive OPSes.
— David Manel (@DavidManel) April 24, 2014
I talked a little bit about Marte during the game on Twitter when I said that I thought it was time for him to get out of the leadoff spot. That was a little bit reactionary by me as I don't think that will happen and there really isn't a good replacement for him. Marte is an extremely streaky hitter but he has been pretty awful for much of this season. He is striking out nearly 33% of his plate appearances and has look wildly lost at the plate. It sucks because he is extremely athletic and talented but that hasn't come out yet.
The shortstop position is really bad. Clint Barmes is not going to be a good hitter, as we have seen over the last few years, but Jordy Mercer has struggled in a huge way. So far this season Mercer is hitting .183/.242/.200 and didn't have a single hit in the entire Reds series.
This are really bad right now and it doesn't get any easier as they travel to St. Louis for a three game set tomorrow. Gerrit Cole is going to be on the mound and the Pirates need him to be a stopper in the worst way.