In case you missed it, the Pittsburgh Pirates set a record earlier this week that you just don’t see every year. Through 18 games, they have not scored more than, nor allowed more than five runs in a single game this season. Not surprisingly, their record is 8 wins and 10 losses. In an age of both mindless and meaningless stats, these numbers are actually kind of fun. Still, this is not the kind of record the Bucs had in mind as they seek to end their string of 19 consecutive losing seasons. Since this streak is bound to be broken, perhaps as early as this weekend, maybe it is time to guess which path Pittsburgh takes into the rest of 2012: the solid pitching or the futile hitting?
This optimistic writer says the hitting will pick up and the pitching will continue its solid, if unspectacular results. The Pirates have enough talent starting with Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker to be an average to above average offensive team. The patience the organization has shown with Pedro Alvarez can finally be starting to pay off. The average is a frightening .156 at the moment but he does have four home runs. Alex Presley has developed into a capable leadoff hitter. They will score their fair share of runs and probably strikeout more than you would like but as the weather warms up so will the bats.
On the pitching side, the starters have enough guts and guile to get the team over the magic .500 mark. The staff of Erik Bedard, Charlie Morton, AJ Burnett, James McDonald and Kevin Corriea (along with the injured Jeff Karstens) are not dominators but as evidenced by the first 10% of the season, will keep the Pirates in every game. There is no reason why as a group they can’t win at a minimum of 60 games. Joel Hanrahan is a rock-solid closer and Juan Cruz and Evan Meek are steady setup men. The pitchers will do their part to keep the team competitive.
While this is hardly the year of the Bucs, they will break their sub-.500 slide in 2012. Baseball fans of all stripes will celebrate the return to respectability of one of the game’s most storied franchises.
Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com