Welcome to the new addition to the site—The North Shore Nine Hit and Run. This will be a quick post where we hit on a couple of news tidbits, minor transactions, links, etc from the week. Quick being the pivotal word…hopefully I can keep it short and sweet.
Pitching is key—With the Bucs stellar offensive numbers, first in many ML categories, you’d think the team would be better than just an 11-9 record. They would be, but their pitching is 23rd in the Majors…and that shows you how crucial pitching is in baseball. Think about it. The Bucs are on pace through 20 games to have the most base runners in more than 100 years. That’s a historic pace. Yes, it’s obviously extremely early, but it shows you how important pitching is. Even with a historic pace of offense, mediocre pitching can derail a season quickly. Had the pitching been in the top half of the league, the Bucs would probably be off to a Cubs-like start too.
Bell Honored—Josh Bell was named the International League Batter of the Week for the week of April 18-24. The Pirates No. 3 prospect hit .400 (12-for-30) with two HRs and nine RBIs for the week. One of his home runs was a grand slam for Triple-A Indy. The future is bright, my friends.
Niese PH RBI—When Jon Niese pinch hit with an RBI single in the 13th inning of that wild victory over Arizona Sunday, he became the first Pirates pitcher to have an RBI single since Dick Hall back in June of 1956. Wow.
Meadows is Back—Austin Meadows came off the DL after fracturing an orbital bone in a spring workout and appeared in his first game of the season last night. The Pirates No. 2 prospect batted leadoff and was in center field for Double-A Altoona. Meadows finished 1-for-4 in his 2016 debut. The fact that he’s already playing in games before the end of April is great news for the Bucs.
Kang’s Rehab—Jung Ho Kang‘s rehab at Triple-A Indy is a week old and am I the only one slightly worried here? Not only is Kang 1-for-15 in a week against Triple-A pitching, but he didn’t even play last night and the game before only appeared as a pinch hitter and walked. I’m sure they are just going slow with him after his brutal injury last season, but I’m a little worried that he’s not yet 100 percent.
Polanco Doubles Machine—I tweeted last night that it feels like Gregory Polanco gets a double almost every night. After looking it up, that wasn’t too far off. Polanco already has eight doubles through 20 games this season. That’s a pace of 64 doubles (!!). Not saying he will keep that pace up, but with five games still to play in April, he could eclipse his best month of his career when he hit 10 doubles in July last year. El Coffee has been crushing the ball in 2016 with a nice .324/.430/.507 slash line. He also already has 14 walks through 20 games when he walked just 55 times total in 2015.
McCutchen’s Slow April—So McCutchen is having a slow April, right? Can you believe that he was worst last April? Cutch is currently slashing .213/.337/.347 through 19 games. Last season in the month of April, Cutch had a .194/.302/.333 line in 21 games. Also, career wise Cutch’s worst month has been by far April. In his career, he has a .754 OPS. Every other month, he’s above .900 and no lower than .861 OPS. Translation: Relax. Cutch will be torturing baseballs again very soon.