Insider Only Daily 5: Pirates struggles in NL central, rack up wins with Lirano on mound; + Pens Rumors & Steelers offense improving inside 35

DHP_0961[1] TIOPS DAILY FIVE

*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
Photo: David Hague

1. The Pirates with last night’s 4-1 loss to the Brewers are now 12-18 against the NL Central. That’s a problem for a team with division title aspirations and so is only winning three of Francisco Liriano’s 12 starts this season when Liriano has posted nine quality starts thus far.
Liriano wasn’t perfect but went eight innings, retiring 14 straight batters at one time.
“You score one run, there’s no safety net for the starter,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Good work by him, again. This is good stuff. This is hard-to-hit stuff.”
The inability to rack up wins with Liriano on the mound during the first two months of the season is an area if the Pirates fall short of winning a division they’ll look back on.

2. Starling Marte hit his 12th home run of the season in Tuesday night’s loss. He’s one home run away from his tying his career high, 13 in 135 games last season. Is this the start of Marte putting a couple 30 home run, 100 RBI seasons together as he hits his prime? He’s on pace for 34 home runs, 112 RBI this season and has 20 home runs in his last 355 at-bats dating back to August 2014.

3. Jim Rutherford is notorious for planting seeds with the media for players he’s interested in that are not available and deals that are only going to happen on the PS4.  He did it last February with the Jordan Staal rumors and it’s happening again with Brandon Saad.
From Pierre LeBrun of ESPN: [“A source suggested to me Tuesday that the Pittsburgh Penguins are a team to watch as far as having interest in Saad. The Penguins would love to make a splash by grabbing the Pittsburgh native, especially given their need for a top-six scoring winger. The Penguins could make a trade offer or an issue an offer sheet. I think veteran general manager Jim Rutherford will explore what it takes on the Saad front. I think Saad stays put in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean the Penguins won’t try.”]
The Penguins can try all they want. They’re just going to get laughed at on the other end. This Saad stuff is a bunch of nothing, just like the offer sheet talk last week as the Penguins don’t have their own 2nd round pick in 2016 to make a substantial offer sheet for Saad. The Penguins had their chance to get Saad in 2011 on the draft floor and so did Rutherford who passed on Saad at No. 42 as GM of the Hurricanes and the Blackhawks struck gold at No. 43.

4.

— Hey Wayne!  The Penguins are for sale if you still want to get back into the NHL after showing interest in joining the Capitals, Leafs the past couple seasons —

5. Todd Haley spoke this afternoon after Wednesday’s OTA workout and a significant area of focus for Haley, staff is the Steelers becoming an elite offense inside the 35. The Steelers put up 436 points last season and Steelers coaches believe this offense has the ability to score over 500 points this season, which normally leads to elite status. Evolving into one of the best red-zone offenses and a more efficient offense inside the 35 will likely determine whether the Steelers put it all together this season and take that next step.
“We had too many possessions where we ended up with no points,” Haley said of the Steelers inconsistencies last season inside the red zone and inside the 35.
“Whether it’s 3 or 7 points, when we get inside that 35 we can’t give points away,” Haley said today.

“You add those on to what was a pretty good total of points, which is the name of the game, and we probably would’ve been feeling even better about what we did.”

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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