Pirates Panic Button

A popular topic after the Dodgers whipped the Bucs last night, one that literally drove me off twitter, is how to fix the team.  The team that is in the wild card race on August 15th.  The team that is 12 games over .500, and would only need to go 18-28 (.391, the Cubs level of play this year) the rest of the way to have a winning season for the first time in two decades. The team that pretty much nobody expected to be even close to relevant this late in the season.  The team that has the 6th best record in MLB (better than perennial favorites Tampa, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, and both Los Angeles teams).  The team that has a legitimate MVP candidate on the roster, and has a Top 10 pitching staff by most metrics.  The team that, if the season ended today, would travel to Atlanta for a one game showdown to face the Washington Nationals in the Division Series of the PLAYOFFS.

Well, the team has struggled this month, going 5-8.  We still have 2 games left against the Dodgers, and 6 against the Cardinals, both teams chasing us for the wild card.  Is it time to panic?  Yes and no.  Obviously if the Bucs continue to play .384 ball, we'll be in trouble when September rolls around.  But the stretch run also features 19 games against the Brewers, Cubs and Astros, 4 against the Mets, and 9 games against the Reds and Braves, the teams we're chasing.  So while the next couple of weeks will be nail biting, the team is in complete control of their destiny.  Beat up on the teams we should beat, and then any extra wins against the Reds and Braves are gravy.  Losses against them don't hurt so bad because of the extra wild card this year.

In September, we can expect the best possible relievers and hitters to come from Indianapolis to bolster the bullpen and bench for the race.  Looking at the 40 man roster, at least 4 pitchers (Hughes, McCutchen, Morris, Wilson), 1 catcher (Fryer), and 5 bench guys (Clement, Hague, Navarro, Presley and Tabata) could be added.  That's 10 guys who could bolster the team in 2 weeks.  That will drastically improve the bullpen, as well as Hurdle's pinch hitting options.

But I'm not so sure we can wait that long.  I would swap Harrison for Navarro, and dump Qualls and call up Morris, and have them meet us in St. Louis on Friday.  They're only marginal improvements, but that should be enough to tread water.  Also, ditch this 6 man rotation idea.  Starting tonight, it's Rodriguez and Burnett to finish off the Dodgers series, followed by McDonald, Bedard and Karstens in St. Louis.  Hopefully, Correia made his last start last night, and I'd use Locke as the long guy, or to give a spot start for McDonald in San Diego should he struggle again.  

There's no need to panic yet, just get through this rough patch (all teams have them, even playoff teams), and load up for what could be a hell of a run in September.

Beat Em, Bucs! 


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Tony Frampton said...

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