Gregory Polanco Returns in Bad Week for Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 22: Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates takes the field against the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park on April 22, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Polanco Returns

Gregory Polanco played in his first Major League game since suffering two season-ending injuries on September 7, 2018. He returned to the lineup on April 22 and batted third. In his first at-bat, he beat the shift and smiled the entire way to first base.

He finished the day 2-for-4, with a double and two runs scored. For the week, he batted .286, with six hits in the six games he played, and sported an on-base-percentage of .348.

Pirates Week

Despite the return of Polanco and Elias Diaz from the IL, the Pirates did not win a single game last week. They were swept in four games by the Arizona Diamondbacks, before dropping all three games of the weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pirates were first in the division eight days ago with a record of 12-7. They now sit in fourth place, 4.5 games back of the leading St. Louis Cardinals, and hold a record of 12-14.

What Went Wrong?

The strength of the Pirates for the first three weeks of the season was their pitching. In the four games against the Diamondbacks, they allowed 30 runs. With a lethargic offense that only produced seven runs in the four games, the Pirates showed that they did not, and do not, stand a chance when their pitching fails. The team ERA prior to Diamondbacks series was 2.46, with a starting ERA of 2.08 and a bullpen ERA of 3.19. After the four game sweep, the team ERA swelled to 3.31, as the starting ERA went up to 2.67 and the bullpen ERA soared to 4.54.

Then Pittsburgh headed out to two-time reigning National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers, trying to right the ship. Despite playing in three close games, they could not find a win as pitching let them down on Friday and Sunday, and the offense couldn’t get the needed runs on Saturday. Joe Musgrove was out-dueling Clayton Kershaw for six innings on Saturday, but the Dodgers finally got to him in the seventh, scoring all three runs on four hits and forcing Musgrove from the game. The ERA after being swept by LA looks as follows: total ERA to 3.56, starting ERA to 3.21, and bullpen to 4.23

Now What?

The Pirates are no where close to done. They still have two starting outfielders on the IL, Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson who provide a lot of offense and are both strong defensively. Marte is expected to be reactivated on Tuesday, April 30, as Pittsburgh travels to Texas to take on the Rangers.

Eventually, everyone knew that the Pirates starting pitching wouldn’t continue to look like four Cy Young candidates and a solid fifth starter. Unfortunately, with the offense looking so poor, the Pirates aren’t going to win many high scoring games. A plus of the LA series, however, is that Pittsburgh was able to nine runs between the three games. That was more runs than the mid-week series and just as many runs as the previous weekend. This team can hit when they choose to.

A welcomed edition to the squad has been unlikely hero, Melky Cabrera. Lovingly called “the Melk Man,” Melky provides a good glove, a strong arm, and a veteran approach at the plate. He holds a team high .333 batting average, has hit five doubles, and three home runs, including two in the Sunday finale of the Dodgers series. He also is just straight fun to watch, showcased by his hustle.

In Summary

Baseball is a long season. If the Pirates bounce back and win six-seven of their next ten games, no one will be worried. This past week did show how vulnerable the team is when the pitching falters. They could definitely use a big game against the Rangers on Tuesday to get back on track.

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Images

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.