Scouting the Pittsburgh Pirates (5-5, 3-1 home)
1. CF Andrew McCutchen – The Pirates are off to a 5-5 start and they are winning games by playing small ball. The catalyst in a number of wins has been centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.
McCutchen’s ability on the basepads to get in scoring position has won the Pirates at least two games this season.
With the Pirates trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th Friday night, McCutchen stole second, and Lastings Milledge drove him in with two outs to give the Pirates a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
McCutchen is tied for the MLB lead with 6 stolen bases and is threat to get in scoring position in nearly every situation that he is on the basepads.
2. SS Ronny Cedeno – Leads all Pirates starters with a .343 batting average and is second on the team with 2 stolen bases. Through 9 games has a fielding percentage of 1.000.
A negative for Cedeno is that he leads the Pirates with 12 strikeouts, which is a reason he hasn’t been under much consideration to move out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup.
3. OF Ryan Church – Has been a tremendous presence inside the clubhouse and coming off the bench.
Is batting .455 (5-for-11, 3RBI’s, 4 runs scored).
4. 2B Aki Iwamura – Has performed above expectations in the eyes of many. Is batting .275 (11-for-40) and is second on the team with 2 home runs – 7 RBI’s and 7 walks, including a team-best .370 on base percentage among Pirates starters.
Has been a good presence at the top of the lineup.
5. 2B/OF Delwyn Young – After hitting 6 home runs and 18 RBI’s in spring training, Young has continued his strong play off the bench and is batting .364 (4-for-11, 3 RBIs). Adds versatility off the bench and has worked extremely hard.
6. P Zach Duke (2-0, 2.37 era) – Off to a 2-0 start and missed out on improving to 3-0 Friday night after the Pirates bullpen blew a 3-1 lead against the Reds.
7. Reliever Evan Meek (1.50 era) – Considered the Pirates most under-rated reliever, Evan Meek has been the teams the top reliever through 10 games. In 6 innings pitched, Meek has surrendered 6 hits and 1 earned run.
1. P Ross Ohlendorf Injury – The Pirates most consistent pitcher in 2009 is headed to the disabled list due to back spasms. A blow to a Pirates rotation that lacks any kind of depth in their system.
2. Pirates Bullpen/Rotation There have been mixed reviews on Neal Huntington’s rebuilt bullpen. The Pirates starting pitching has put their bullpen in positions to struggle but inconsistency has plagued the Pirates bullpen.
Closer Octavio Dotel is 2 of 3 in save opportunities but has a 5.40 era in 5 innings pitched. Lefties Javier Lopez (6.00 era, 3 walks) and Jack Taschner (5.40 era) have been inconsistent, while D.J. Carrasco (5.63 era) has also struggled at times.
3. C Ryan Doumit – Looking for a bounce back season, Doumit got off a strong start hitting .353 through his first four games.
However, Doumit is 2-for-19 in his last 5 games, including two games with 3+ strikeouts.
4. 3B Andy LaRoche – Off to yet another slow start, LaRoche is batting .222 with just 1 home run and 1 RBI in 9 games. Has come down with a minor back injury and must improve his hitting ability to keep a spot in the Pirates long-term plans.
1. P Charlie Morton (0-2, 13.50 era) – Leads Pirates starters with 9 strikeouts but has surrendered 17 hits and 14 earned runs in two starts. Regarded as having the best stuff on the Pirates staff, Morton’s lack of consistency from an inning-to-inning basis is frustrating for the young starter.
2. 1B Jeff Clement (.115, 1hr – 3 RBI’s) – Prior to spring training, it was hard to find a scout who believed that Jeff Clement could hit at the major league level and it’s been a struggle for the former first round pick.
Clement is batting .115 (3-for-26) on the season but the Pirates are in the position where they can be patient with Clement.
3. Hayden Penn, Daniel McCutchen, Brian Burress: In 9.2 innings pitched, the trio combined for 23 earned runs. Penn has been released.
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