With the Marlins happy to be kicking off a home stand in south Florida, they look to welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates for a 3 game series starting tonight. To prepare you for this important series, we asked Tom Smith, editor of Rum Bunter, some questions. Rum Bunter is the Pittsburgh Pirates Fansided site and is the best place to get all the information you could want about the Pirates.
MM: After the Pirates great season last year, they have stumbled out of the gate this season. What has been the biggest cause? And do you think they can turn it around?
Tom: The four causes for concern have been a suddenly weak starting rotation, the pathetic defense, hitting with runners on base, and the team leads the league in TOOTBLAN. But oh that starting pitching. Also, did we mention the starting pitching staff has really struggled. If the pitching comes around somehow, the team can certainly turn it around, but that’s a massive if at this time. Do you know any teams with an abundance of pitching?
MM: There were a lot of rumors surrounding the Pirates and possibly acquiring Giancarlo Stanton at some point during this past offseason. How serious do you think the Pirates were about making a trade for him? What players do you think they would have had to include to get a deal done?
Tom: We were told the team was doing its’ due diligence. The Marlins weren’t serious in moving him so the discussion didn’t move along.
MM: The All-Star game is quickly approaching. Make the case for any Pirates players that you think should make the N.L. Roster.
Tom: Tony Watson is insane. The Iceman will be on the club.
Neil Walker deserves to be on the team, but he will be out for ten days or so after having emergency surgery. Apparently his appendix wasn’t able to withstand all those jogs around the base paths. It seems highly unlikely for Walker to make the cut.
And finally of course, Andrew McCutchen.
MM: Could you give us a preview of the pitchers that the Marlins will be facing in this series?
Tom: The pitchers the Marlins will face are an interesting mix. Each of them has an interesting story this season.
Jeff Locke was injured in spring training and unable to make the starting staff. [Last year] Locke pitched like a demon in the first half of 2013 and performed well despite all of the sabermetrics screaming for a regression. Well that regression happened in the second half of 2013. Locke pitched rather pedestrianly in AAA and then when called up, was unreal in his last start. The southpaw mixed a filthy changeup in with a fastball to both sides of the dish. When that happens, it makes him one of the Pirates bright spots while trying to get back into the Wild Card hunt in the NL.
Charlie Morton becomes the staff ace while Gerrit Cole rests his tired shoulder. The eclectic Morton pitched like it last time out. The right hander known around the ‘Burgh as #electricstuff will be coming off his best start of the season when he faces the Marlins Saturday. The team has played horrid defense behind the sinker baller in 2014, but Morton has pitched well enough for some solid numbers. If any players are fearful of getting hit with a ball, we have some bad news. Charlie loves pitching inside and leads the galaxy in hitting batters.
On Sunday, TBD will be pitching. We don’t know a lot about TBD but we understand that he pitches a lot like Vance Worley. The right hander was plucked from the Twins at the end of spring training. The team put him in extended spring training in Bradenton and have worked on getting him back to his vanamilistic self. The AAA numbers don’t jump out, but the strike to walk ratio is a bright spot.
MM: Here at Marlin Maniac we love predictions. Could we get a prediction on who will win this series, as well as how far the Pirates can go this season?
Tom: I am not in the prediction business. Pirates sweep Marlins. Pirates make the NL Wild Card on the final day of the season behind lightning rod Gregory Polanco and will face Miami. That work?
That certainly will Tom.
We want to thank Tom for giving us the low down on the Pirates as we prepare for an important series with a potential Wild Card foe. What are your thoughts on the importance of this series? Let us know in the comments below, and Go Fish!