Despite a difficult loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates have won five of their last seven games thanks, in large part, to their offense. Although they bullpen was shaky, inconsistent, and unreliable in Miami, the offense, led by the top three of Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and Andrew McCutchen, carried the Bucs to series victories over the Chicago Cubs and the Marlins this past week.
Cutch was recently named N.L. Player of the Week, as he has been on a hot streak, to say the least. After a relatively sluggish start to the season, especially by his standards, he has turned on the power, once again excelling to one of the best hitters in the game. He enters action tonight with a .325 batting average to go along with 11 homeruns and 41 RBIs.
Marte has also been hitting well at the plate as of late, bumping his average up to .261 for the season, while Polanco, in his six-game tenure, his hitting a whopping .387 with a homerun and five RBIs. Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez have stepped up as well, hitting .275 and .235 respectively.
Unfortunately, the bullpen has been very disappointing as of late. In the three games in Miami this past weekend, the Bucco relievers gave up 11 runs on 11 hits with 8 walks. Each game came down to the wire after the Pirates had occupied commanding leads earlier in the game. Luckily for the Bucs, they were able to come away with two of three wins.
They will certainly need to play better this week against a team that has underachieved so far this season but is one of the more talented in the league – the Cincinnati Reds. Todd Frazier is having a strong season, hitting .273 with 15 HR and 39 RBI, but Brandon Phillips is having a down year for his standards, hitting .277 with just five HR and 29 RBI. Billy Hamilton is always a guy that is the key to the Reds’ offense, with his incredible speed. A huge part of this series will be the Pirates’ ability (or inability) to keep him off the bases.
Johnny Cueto is having a great season so far. Despite his 6-5 record, he is pitching well enough to have double-digit victories, tallying a 1.85 ERA with 109 strikeouts. Aroldis Chapman is back for Cincinnati and is pitching as well as ever, occupying a 1.13 ERA with 11 saves.
Cincinnati Reds (33-35, 4th In N.L. Central) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (34-35, 3rd In N.L. Central)
6/17 – Johnny Cueto (CIN) (6-5, 1.85 ERA, WHIP 0.77) vs. Brandon Cumpton (PIT) (2-2, 6.06 ERA, WHIP 1.53)
6/18 – Alfredo Simon (CIN) (9-3, 2.95 ERA, WHIP 1.09) vs. Edinson Volquez (PIT) (4-5, 3.89 ERA, WHIP 1.18)
6/19 – Homer Bailey (CIN) (7-3, 4.68 ERA, WHIP 1.43) vs. Jeff Locke (PIT) (0-1, 3.98 ERA, WHIP 0.93)
With the offense playing very well but with the bullpen shaky at best, the Pirates could be in for a very interesting series this week against the Reds. For the latest news and updates, as well as recaps and reactions to every game, check back here to Fans From The Stands!
Let’s Go Bucs!