Time for Pirates fans to panic yet?

18 Comments

It’s been a great ride for the Pirates thus far, but as of late it’s getting a little bumpy.

The Pirates have lost five of six and are 16-15 since the break. Part of this? The starting pitching has faltered a bit. James McDonald has gotten noticed for his bumpy second half, but the rotation overall has had its issues.

More troubling is the offense, which has helped carry them after a slow start from the non-McCutchen components. Since the break the team OBP is .309.  The Pirates were frisky when McCutchen was carrying the team by himself, but they began to look like serious contenders only when others began to contribute. They need that overall contribution to resume to stay above water.

I’m not declaring the Pirates dead or anything. It’s merely been a bad week. But right now the Giants/Dodgers duo and the Cardinals look like threats. And given our lack of data on how this Pirates team responds when pushed, they’re definitely worth watching.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.