The Bucs are off today, meaning the next game they’ll play will be the first of July. Another month is in the books, and they’re officially more than halfway through the 2014 season.
I’ll be honest — this was a great month for the Pirates. They went 17-10 (.630), beating up on a lot of sub-.500 teams to get a winning record of their own. The Bucs closed out the month by winning seven of their last nine, and now sit just 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot.
Here’s a look back at a lot of the good and some of the bad that went down in June…
Absurd. Just absurd. Cutch terrorized Major League pitchers this month, slashing .343/.410/.686 with 8 HR, 25 RBI, 19 runs, 5 stolen bases … monster numbers.
Can’t say enough good things about what he’s done since mid-May. The struggle is going to be finding a spot in the lineup for him. J-Hay hit .317 with an .823 OPS in June.
With Harrison’s emergence, one man hasn’t been given nearly enough credit, and that’s Pedro Alvarez. A lot of people are clamoring for Harrison to take Pedro’s spot at third base. Anyone notice that El Toro hit .299/.396/.483 in June? The power had been mostly absent, but he crushed a homer on Sunday (as well as a double) and could go off on one of his power streaks at any time. Give him a chance.
At long last, he arrived. The wunderkind made his MLB debut on June 10th, then notched his first big league homer three days later. He collected at least one hit in each of his first 11 games, and reached base in all of his first 14 contests. Though he’s slumped the last couple days (0 for his last 12), he’s still hitting .288 with a .749 OPS. He’s certainly been fun to watch so far.
The Rotation Depth
– Locke, 2.54 ERA in four starts
– Worley, 1.74 ERA in three starts
– Cumpton, 2.97 ERA in five starts
The Shark Tank Leaders
Melancon: 2.13 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 0.7 BB/9
Watson: 0.71 ERA, 11.4 K/9, 2.1 BB/9
Ike ranked among the “Best” in May — we said, “The newest Bucco looked like a new man in May, hitting .326/.408/.453. He gets on base a ton, and has shown a few glimpses of solid power.” Things went differently in June, as he hit just .183 with a .598 OPS.
The other half of the first base platoon also struggled, batting .211 with a .539 OPS in 40 plate appearances. He made just seven starts in June.
His last month as a Bucco, Grilli got absolutely pounded in 10 outings. Opponents hit .351/.442/.568 against him, scoring seven runs in 8.1 innings (7.56 ERA). The Bucs shipped him to the Angels for Ernesto Frieri on Friday.
A forgettable month for J. Wilson, who surrendered 9 runs in 10 innings. He also walked nine batters.
Neil Walker‘s Appendix
Decided to burst on June 9th. It opened the door for Gregory Polanco to debut and Josh Harrison to get playing time, but it sucked to see Neil go down when he was on a tear — had been hitting .319/.395/.474 in his previous 35 games before the injury.
Gerrit Cole‘s Shoulder
Cole had pieced together a few good outings in a row and was cruising against the Padres on June 3rd when his shoulder seemingly got sore. He hit the disabled list soon after, and while thankfully it wasn’t anything overly serious, it kept him off the mound for the next 25 days. Cole got roughed up for five runs in four innings in his return game against the Mets two days ago.
Francisco Liriano‘s Oblique
On the night of Polanco’s debut, yet another Pirate went down with an injury — Francisco Liriano. He hasn’t been nearly as effective in his second year as a Buc, though it hurts to lose him for such an extended period of time. Oblique injuries have historically kept pitchers out for a while, and it’s still unclear when exactly Liriano will be able to return.
The Rest of the Division
Good news: the Pirates played really well in June. Bad news: So did everyone else. Here’s how each NL Central team fared in June (through today):
Reds — 18-9 (.667)
Brewers — 18-10 (.643)
Pirates — 17-10 (.630)
Cardinals — 14-13 (.519)
Cubs — 14-13 (.519)
No other division had more than three of its teams over .500 for the month. NLC had all five playing winning baseball.
Gotta keep it up in July. Plenty of time left for the Pirates to make a move. Let’s see where they are in a month and go from there…